Paperpots and Terrateck

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black2berry
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Paperpots and Terrateck

I have just been contacted by Terrateck in France with their suggestion that we (Blackberry Lane) might like to handle some of their products in the UK.  It would be useful to have any comments . . .

Some of their products are very similar to the Glaser range of tools that we already import and sell in the UK, and we would probably not want to overlap with those.  Anyone with experience of both Glaser and Terrateck tools who can make comparisons, especially regarding quality and price?

The Japanese Paperpots system looks interesting and I wonder whether many of you are already using it?  If so, presumably buying from Terrateck?  Or is there already anyone else handling it in the UK?  If there is, we would not want to take it on and compete.  If no-one is already handling it, would there be enough interest for us to take it on and import the kit?

Any further comments very welcome as we consider this possibility.

Dave Taylor   [email protected]

black2berry
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Paperpots and Terrateck

Slight update:  Terrateck tell me that they have the exclusive rights for the Paperpot system in Europe and in fact manufacture most of the steel equipment themselves rather than import (expensively) from Japan.

It doesn't look as though they have any agents in the UK as yet, as this approach to us is probably parallel to approaches to one or two other potential partnerships.

We have not made any decisions about taking up this offer of a Terrateck dealership, and it would be VERY useful to hear from anyone who has used their tools and/or the Paperpot system.  Would you value a UK dealer (us?) or are you quite happy to deal direct with them in France?

remus
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Terrateck

I have looked a few times at items on the Terrateck site but even with our flag selected being a French firm they do not like to use English so the only way I have been able to view it is using crome with translate. That has put me off using them.
Some of the range is the same items that appear on the Johnnys seeds site in USA. It would be nice to have an agent form them in this country I did ask the price of hand transplanter but the delivery from the USA was to much.
Items I would like are the hole burner, poly mulch layer and the adhesive tape binder.
I have watched the video of the paper pot system in use in Canada and it does look interesting but the cost of the whole package is high to start with. What would make it of more use and cost effective would be a wider range of paper cells at longer spacing. one unit could them be used across a wide range of crops. If you could do beet and spring onion but also cabbage at say 12" spacing . You might like to say to them a range of cells from 2" to 18" spacing would see a lot more growers interested to purchasing.
When we purchased the Jang seeder from the agent in this country it was dispatched from France, so it might be an easy option to be an agent for Terrateck, take the orders but let them hold the stock and send it out.

black2berry
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PaperPots & Terrateck

Hi, Kevin

    Thanks for your thoughts – very useful!  Point by point:-

1)  Yes, their apparent aversion to English is reflected in the sometimes almost indecipherable 'English' which has been used in emails to me.  OK, it's a lot better than my French, but I think I would have used Google Translate to make a sales approach to another country if my command of the language was not that good – or got someone with better command of the language to do it!  By contrast, I have had good contact with Glaser in Switzerland and, though I know more German than French, their English has been very understandable, if sometimes a little quaint!
2)  Johnny's Seeds stuff seems to be mostly Glaser Tools from Switzerland, the same as we sell, apart from a few things that they manufacture there.
3)  Buying the transplanter from the USA might be double expensive because the sole agents for the Paperpot system there buy in all the equipment from Japan, so you would be paying the high (imported) prices which they already pay, PLUS the cost of shipping over here.  One advantage of buying from Terrateck is that they have the sole agency for Paperpots in Europe and have decided to manufacture their own transplanter and other hardware, so reducing their costs – so hopefully ours as well!
4)  As you say, the spacing options are limited, at 2, 4 and 6 inches.  The actual PaperPots themselves are made in Japan (www.paper-pot.com), so getting wider spacing would mean convincing the Japanese to produce new ranges, or perhaps trying missing out alternate 'pots' when seeding into the 4 and 6 inch versions, so giving you 8" and 12" spacing.  But that starts to reduce the value of the semi-mechanisation, doesn't it?  If we take this on, I would be very happy to approach both Terrateck and the Japanese to try to persuade them to produce wider spacing.
5)  I think Terrateck are keen to have stock held in the UK, and I would actually prefer to be able to respond quickly to customers' needs, especially as that might help to get over the language barrier.  But yes, seeing if they would be agreeable to agency here with direct dispatch from France might be a useful way to go, perhaps especially to start with.  And we could always try to be selective with stocking items which are known wants in the UK, like the hole burner, poly mulch layer and adhesive tape binder which would interest others as well as you, I'm sure.

Dave Taylor

black2berry
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Paperpots and Terrateck

Had a quick question from another grower:  Do we know whether Paperpots would be approved organically?

If there is anyone reading this who has used them, perhaps you know the answer – are they registered as organic in the UK?

The sole importers of the PaperPot system into the USA are Small Farm Works (http://smallfarmworks.com/Products.html), who describe themselves as " a small, certified organic vegetable farm in Wisconsin. We learned about the paper pot system while visiting Japan and decided we wanted to make it available to others. We are committed to small-scale, sustainable farming practices and believe that appropriate technology has an important role to play in helping make small farms profitable and enjoyable."  I do not expect they would have gone ahead with it if it was not acceptable to the US Organic standards.  Would that make for automatic UK approval?

As we at Blackberry Lane are organic in practice but not registered as such, it would not be so crucial for us, but I appreciate that the lack of Organic certification would present a large obstacle for many growers.

Any Soil Association members out there who would care to ask the SA, or perhaps I should do it myself . . . ?

P.S. Have just done so, as well as asking Terrateck and the Japanese Paperpot company themselves.

black2berry
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Paperpots and Terrateck

Just had a very prompt reply from Japan.  Apparently the PaperPot system has not yet received Organic Certification in Japan, but has done so in the USA, Spain and France.  As I understand it, Organic Certification in one EU country should mean approval in all EU countries – or have I got that wrong?  They also helpfully told me about their paper pots (which they call 'chain pots' for obvious reasons) ingredients: 

"Ingredient in paper is “Non-bleached kraft pulp paper”, Ethylene vinylacetate resin” and “Vinylacetate resin”. And our paper is not contain “fungicide”, ”preservative” and fumigant”. "  Sounds pretty good to me, and I shall feed that information to the Soil Association when they eventually get in touch (I hope).

Stuart Jones
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Terrateck and gaps in the market

Adding to remus's comments, I think the other interesting Terrateck product is the seedbed roller. This looks similar to the one done by Johnny's Seeds in the US (although not clear if Terrateck does a row marker strap like Johnny's). Anyway, I reckon this would fill a useful gap in the market, even if there's only one width roller available.

The shovel harvester might be useful too, though difficult to say how much quicker it would be than harvesting with scissors / knives.

In terms of field-scale, it would be amazing to see someone bringing over Terrateck's Culti'track. All the bygone tool carriers (Fendt, bean, 2D, Allis-Chalmers 'G') seem few and far between in any decent condition.

Finally, I reckon there's a gap in the market in bringing over some more of the Johnny's Seeds tools. The tilther and 6-row seeder for example.

Don't know if that's helpful, just what I reckon from a small amount of looking around I've done.

Nice one,

Rob, Moss Brook Growers

black2berry
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Paperpots and Terrateck

Thanks for the input, Rob

The shovel Harvester looks good and they do a right- or left-handed version, too.  Eliot Coleman is behind the Quick Cut Greens Harvester as well, thou I'm not sure whether Johnnys are doing this one too.

Terrateck market their seedbed roller as a perforator to make holes in plastic mulch, but I reckon it could be pressed into service as a general roller.  Notice that Johnnys has a useful edged tray on the top, which they show with a concrete block on it to add extra weight.  Terrateck's could be modified if needed, I suppose.

The 6 Row Seeder, Tilther and Quick Cut Greens Harvester are all things that Growers Friend have been pursuing, so you could contact them to see what progress they have made.  Not much info on their website as far as I can see.

Keep the comments coming!

Dave

Stuart Jones
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Another Terrateck tool with potential

Hi Dave,

I agree about the weight tray on the Johnny's seed bed roller - looks a better design than Terrateck in that respect.

Yes, I gather Growers Friend is working on an expanded range over the next few months.

Another Terrateck tool I forgot to mention is their wheel weeder - they've got a video too. I think it would be better if the handle was off-set, but if it really works effectively the time-saving of not having to push & pull (as with other hoes) could be considerable.

Let us know how you get on!

Cheers,

Rob

black2berry
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Paperpots and Terrateck

Yes, the Wheel Weeder looks impressive on the video, doesn't it?  The 'blurb' says that it will work best on lighter soils, though usable on any except very stony soils.  'Fast walking pace' recommended for using it, so those rows had better be accurately in line!

Has anyone 'out there' used this bit of kit?  Feedback, please!

Terrateck have gone a bit quiet on me for the last week, so maybe I'll contact them again soon.

Dave

black2berry
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Paperpots and Terrateck

Terrateck have now sent me their new but unfinalised English catalogue, which is a lot more readable than their website!

I can forward a PDF copy to anyone who is interested.  I also have a PDF copy of their October 2016 price list.  Please email me ([email protected]) so that I have your email address. 

Let me know if there are any items which you would like to order and if there is at least a little uptake I shall put together an initial order.  I have not yet worked out what costs we might have in setting up an order like this but, if Terrateck send direct to you from our order, our costs should be minimal though you will have to pay carriage costs from France.

If we progress with this and start holding some of their tools in stock, then obviously we will need to make some charge for that but the carriage costs from us to you (within the UK) will be lower and should make any item rather cheaper overall.

Terrateck seem to have a wide range of tools and it will be too extensive for us to carry the whole range, at least initially, so your input will be valuable in helping us to decide which items to concentrate on.  Thanks to all those who have already commented – duly noted!

black2berry
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Paperpots and Terrateck

I have now had some contact with the Soil Association and the Paperpots system does NOT have organic certification in the UK.  The process of getting the certification is apparently straightforward, but the costs are not insignificant and I am reluctant to go down that route without some greater confidence that there would be good uptake in the UK.  Initial enquiries cost £130 + VAT and then the certification is about £700 p.a.

    I wonder whether there would be sufficient take-up from growers in the UK who were prepared to use the system initially without any organic certification.  If not, then it will be hard to know whether to go ahead with paying out for certification in the HOPE of take-up once it is certified!

    If you have any thoughts on this, please let me know.  I am keeping a note of people who are interested in the Terrateck/Paperpots question, and probably the best central reference will be here on the OGA Forum, but please email me ([email protected]) with any comments, especially whether you would be interested in using the Paperpot system before it gets organic certification, or if you have any suggestions about how to proceed with this – or know of anyone who might like to take the system through the certification process!

black2berry
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Paperpots and Terrateck

I have just emailed Terrateck and floated the idea that they might like to submit the application themselves for organic certification of the Paperpot system.  I will be very happy to act as 'midwife' by putting them in touch with the Soil Association's certification man, Tom Hartley, and maybe help by making sure that the forms are filled in using English and not 'Franglais' !!  I have also just emailed Tom and will await replies from both of them.

Meanwhile, I hope to be able to send out some printed copies of Terrateck's English catalogue soon.  The PDFs which I have forwarded on to some were only drafts, so hopefully most of the mistakes in them have been corrected by now.  We shall also try to come up with a way for UK growers to order Terrateck products as easily and cheaply as possible.  

Initially, I do not plan to hold much (if any) stock of their products, but may start doing so when the level of interest here becomes more evident.  The Paperpot system would be an early candidate for my stock purchase, especially if organic certification gets under way soon.

Any more ideas?  Keep them coming!  

Dave Taylor  [email protected]

Wendy Seel
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Some feedback on Terrateck equipment

I bought a few things from Terrateck last year.  Despite my awful lack of French language skills I found Terrateck easy to deal with and am pleased with the items. While Terrateck were patient with my poor French a UK agent would be ideal.

 I bought a two-wheel hoe with a variety of attachements to straddle small crops and hoe between them to compiment my glaser hoe.  They all work well but need a reasonably stone-free soil for best results.  I also bought a shovel harvestor, and while it seemed expensive at the time it has become one of my best loved bits of kit.  It really speeds up salad harvesting and makes a tidy job.  Recommended, especially if you are harvesting smaller patches of many different crops to make up salad bags.

I am very interested in the paperpot transplanter and would probably give it a go if the certification issue can be resolved.

 

black2berry
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Paperpots and Terrateck

Thanks, Wendy.

We are moving ahead slowly with Terrateck.  They have a VAST inventory of tools, some of which look really good, and we would be hard pushed to accommodate even a fraction of them in our limited storage.  So, I am looking at the best way of assisting sales to folks who want to buy Terrateck items and perhaps initially we will be able to make periodic orders (once a month?) of a 'bundle' of items ordered by various UK customers and then send them on.  We shall need to be careful to keep end prices no higher (and hopefully lower) than they would be if people order direct as you did.

The question of Paperpot certification is moving ahead quite well.  Like you, though we are much smaller, I am very interested in the Paperpot system.  It seems like a logical progression from using soil blocks, which we have done for years, and I am pretty sure that there will be quite a number of growers interested once the certification question is settled.  Tom Hartley at the Soil Association is being very helpful and we are having email discussions with Terrateck (and Japan) about it, so I am optimistic of at least getting initial tests done fairly soon.

I shall definitely keep this forum posted on developments, and will probably blog and tweet when we have something definite to say.

michaelmarston
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Paperpots and Terrateck progress

Thanks for progress report.There is OGA meeting this weekend. It might be worth contacting committee member to raise question with Growers present .Keep up good work

black2berry
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Paperpots and Terrateck

Sorry for the long delay with any updates, and thank you for those who have contacted me direct.  The present situation is:–
1)  We have come to the conclusion that taking on the Terrateck range would really be too much for us to handle and have recently told Terrateck this.  They tell us that they are in discussion with at least one other UK company who may be willing to handle their range in the UK.
2)  The Terrateck website does not seem to be English-friendly (how French-friendly is any UK website?) but an email to them with your enquiry will normally get a fairly quick response, and then now have an arrangement with a new carriage company which they assure me charges more reasonable rates.  Be prepared to write in uncomplicated English and get a reply in quaint English – though their English is MUCH better than my French!
3)  Terrateck manufacture the metal hardware for the Paperpot system in France but import the actual paper pots from the manufacture in Japan, who hold international patents for them.
4)  The Japanese manufacturer of the paper pots is working on producing them with a vegetable glue which will definitely be acceptable for organic certification.  This is expected to be available next year (don't know exactly when).  We have been talking with Terrateck about getting organic certification for the existing paper pots and the ball is in their court for that, BUT I suspect that they will now hold off for the vegetable-based glue.
5)  The PDF version of Terrateck's catalogue, which I can send out, doesn't seem to print out very well but is OK for browsing online.  I still have a number of Terrateck's printed catalogues which I can send out if wanted.  I also have a March 2017 'Field Price List' (PDF) which I believe is still current, though I expect it will be updated in early 2018.

Sorry to disappoint those who hoped we would be handling this range.  It looks very attractive (I especially like the look of the Paperpot system) but it would just not be practical for us to take it on.  We are a bit disappointed too but are very busy with the range of tools which we already handle through Blackberry Lane, plus our land is still in 'recovery mode' after the depradations of tenants, so we are trying to catch up with that at the same time.

Plus, of course, we are not getting any younger and may even be looking to pass on the Blackberry Lane business before many more years have gone by!

Dave Taylor  [email protected]

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