Tom Noels, Windset Farms, talks about the substrate of choice:

"US: "Nice balance between water holding capacity and oxygen levels at the roots"

With 52 hectares of advanced Ultra-Clima greenhouse, Windset Farms® in Santa Maria, California is one of the largest single site greenhouse operations in the Western United States. Year round, they have an enormous production output of high quality greenhouse vegetables. And just like their customers, who demand consistent produce year-around, the senior growers at Windset Farms® expect the best from their suppliers. We spoke with them about their substrate of choice.

This year, Windest Farms® is growing both tomatoes and cucumbers on Riococo coir substrate on 46 hectare in their Ultra-Clima greenhouses in Santa Maria, California, USA. Riococo is also the substrate of choice for another 11.75 hectares with tomatoes in their high-tech greenhouses in Delta, British Columbia, Canada.

"We are using coir substrate because it is more efficient for growing our crops on", said Windset's Director of Growing Operations, Tom Noels. He mentioned that there are several reasons behind their choice, and cost is one of them. "Rockwool is still more expensive than any coir supplier. Not only is the product more expensive, but also is the additional transportation cost and disposal fees come into play with rockwool. There is no recycling program available in this area, whereas with coco all the coir goes to a local composter."

Director of growin operations Tom Noels, head grower Alejandro Lopez and senior grower Tim de Kok of Windset Farms.

In 2013, Windset Farms' growers changed to Riococo. Noels says, "the reason for this, was the trial result. Riococo had the most consistent blend, a uniform bag size after wetting the product, and regular EC test samples. The production with Riococo in the trial was the highest." Furthermore, Noels added that they also conducted a 10-month trial with rockwool. "At the end, there was no additional production or quality improvements compared to the crops grown with Riococo. There was also an added benefit that the coco medium was more forgiving when you’re too shy with irrigation water."

All Riococo products are 100% organic and certified by OMRI.

The senior growers at Windset Farms® mentioned that they are very satisfied with the results from the Riococo growing medium, but that they spend time on finding the right supplier, as not every coir substrate is the same. "With so many suppliers on the market and coco coir products are available from different countries, it is extremely important for Windset to buy the most consistent coir slabs on the market. Not all suppliers are as capable as Riococo of supplying this uniform and consistent product on such a large scale, twice a year."

Windset farms is using the Riococo 300 growbag; a custom blend that has a nice balance between water holding capacity and oxygen levels at the roots. Noels adds that "all coir is pre-washed multiple times which allow us to recycle and drain from day one. The drain holes are pre-cut, which saves us a lot of time during planting." Some additional special features are customer specific preferences that prevent the cubes from drying out too fast and allowing for better rooting.

Shan Halamba, CEO of Riococo is proud to have a prestigious company like Windset Farms® among their worldwide customers. "Our coir products are 100% Sri Lankan-made and we are catering to hydroponics and many other growing industries around the globe. We are very glad to hear that Windset Farms® appreciates the consistent blend of our growbags, because it is one of our top priorities to maintain the consistency and uniformity throughout our production process."

In February 2014, Windset farms’ was awarded the World’s Best Tomato Grower Award at the Fruit Logistica in Berlin.

Riococo is headquartered in Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex of Texas, USA with their own production plants in Sri Lanka. Branch offices, distributors and customers are located in 33 countries across the globe, spanning six continents.

For more information:
Shan Halamba

Publication date:

Receive the daily newsletter in your email for free | Click here

Other news in this sector:

Sign up for our daily Newsletter and stay up to date with all the latest news!

Subscribe I am already a subscriber