At Boomaroo, product quality and consistency are paramount to building a strong, dedicated and confident customer base that will keep coming back.
Growers know this. And, as a commercial nursery for over 30 years, Boomaroo knows how important QA has been to their own success and longevity.
Through developing extensive QA processes, Boomaroo have established a rigorous QMS (Quality Management System), taking into consideration every step of a plants’ growing cycle in the nursery. This means ensuring seedlings dispatched from both the Lara and Southbrook facilities are of optimum health, consistency and meet growers’ individualised specifications. Boomaroo’s QMS also plays a critical role in achieving national and international food quality and safety certifications, such as ISO9001 and HACCP.
Behind our extensive processes and procedures is a team of dedicated specialists – from QA officers, master planners, agronomists, plant health specialists and scientists.
Nyunt Win Myint, Boomaroo’s Quality Control and Customer Service Officer, is one of these specialists responsible for monitoring the QA journey of Boomaroo’s seedlings.
With a Bachelor of Science degree in both Chemistry and Food Science & Nutrition, Win has significant experience in Food Science and Quality Control. She’s been with Boomaroo for over 8 years, initially working in QA before moving into her current Quality Control role.
As a keen gardener herself, Win was excited to move from her previous roles in the food production industry to apply her knowledge and skill to the more dynamic working environment of horticulture that she now enjoys at Boomaroo.
“We’ve built a strong base to work from, with over 10 years of results to inform our understanding. But we continue to build off this base. I enjoy continually thinking about new testing opportunities or looking for new insights to bring this data to life for the benefit of our customers”
So how does she carry out this important role? Win has identified some of the key concepts that she says underpin Boomaroo’s QA program.
Keep the customer first
Win plays an integral linking role, collaborating across the growing and customer service teams to ensure customer’s growing needs are consistently met across the areas of quality control, growing and customer service.
“I put myself in the position of the customer and consider whether the plants will meet their expectations. We have to see ourselves within the grower’s entire production schedule and make sure we’re not the missing link in the chain.”
With this focus on the customer, insights from Win’s work provides alignment across the wider Boomaroo team.
What you put in is what you’ll get out
Win’s role also requires the processing and testing of numerous inputs, including the growing media from our suppliers (required to meet Boomaroo’s strict specifications), nitrogen levels (critical to plant health and development) and of the water we apply.
As part of our sustainability targets, 30-50% of Boomaroo’s water comes from recycled sources, so routine testing prior to use is critical to screen for MRL’s (Maximum Residue Levels), total salts/salinity (EC levels), and for nasty pathogens like Listeria spp and E.coli.
Additional testing for PH and for micro and macro elements in the water, helps Win support the growing team to make accurate day-to-day decisions that ensure the feeding and watering program is tailored to optimise seedling’s development.
These tests provide Win with the critical information she needs to manage and control the efficacy of all inputs required at this important early stage in a plant’s life.
Track the variables in the growing cycle
Beyond the testing of initial inputs, Win continues to conduct routine in-nursery testing to monitor variables such as the impacts of weather, pathogens and other unforeseen circumstances.
Non-routine in-nursery testing responding to observations made by the growing team may also be needed to support tailored solutions to suit customers’ needs.
“In a plant’s growing cycle, there are macronutrients and micronutrients. Too much of either is not good. When I worked in the food production industry it was simple – pack, ready, done. But with plants, you really can’t do that. It’s a living, growing thing. We have to constantly monitor the plant and test, test, test so that we can keep on top of it. By the time you notice any deficiencies in the plant’s appearance, the damage is already done.”
Testing is undertaken at a variety of stages in the plants’ development before they leave the nursery, to hone our treatment program and ensure they are delivered with the nutrition they need to meet customers’ high-quality expectations.
- Plug tests and drip through tests both pre-fertigation (to tailor the fertigation program) and post-fertigation (to ensure the optimum availability of nitrates is achieved).
- NPK (Nitrogen Phosphorus Potassium) testing to measure soluble nitrate ions in the growing media.
- Air Fill Porosity testing to indicate how well the growing media drains, ensuring adequate water retention in the hotter summer months and adequate release of water to avoid water-logging in the cooler winter months.
- EC (Electrical Conductivity) testing to monitor salinity and the availability of nutrients to the seedling.
- PH testing to ensure optimum conditions for the ready uptake of nutrients and micronutrients.
- Testing of fertigation solutions to verify efficiency of fertigation process.
- Additionally, a number of tests are conducted externally through independent laboratories.
By meticulously testing and validating the plant throughout its growing cycle, Win and the QA team ensure the highest possible plant quality is loaded onto the truck at the end of its time in the nursery.
A well fed, well developed and robust plant at this stage of the growing cycle, means that it’s in a strong position to adapt to the more exposed conditions faced once in the growers’ field.