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The Vila group & Biogrow are growing hand in hand:

French grower Vila starts construction of 10 hectare ModulAIR

French grower Bruno Vila, chairman of the Vila group, Rougeline and chief of substrate company Biogrow, started the construction of a new 10-ha semi closed greenhouse in Pontenx, France one month ago. The greenhouse, a ModulAIR greenhouse from Van der Hoeven, will be heated by residual heat that comes from a waste material burning plant. Thanks to a connection between the nearby plant and the greenhouse, the grower can effectively utilize the 55 degrees water from the plant.

“Obtaining heat like this is very competitive to cogeneration or a heating boiler, and it will help us to maintain a strong position on the market. Thanks to special rebates for sustainable energy it also lowers the taxes. Also in combination with the semi closed construction it is perfectly possible to save a lot of heat inside the greenhouse, hence we can complete a cultivation with only 55 degrees in our heating pipes.”-Bruno said.

Fabrice Fievre, Martin Carniel and Bruno Villa at the GreenTech in Amsterdam.

Besides the growth of the greenhouse acreage, the growth of Vila's coir substrate company Biogrow has also been moderate over the past few years. Biogrow is part of the Vila Group; Bruno and his family have been selling peat moss substrate in the past and growing produce in greenhouses for several decades, and in 1992, when coco peat was being touted as a new viable growing substrate, Vila's company decided to investigate. After the appropriate due diligence, the Vila Group built a factory in Sri Lanka in 1996 to produce the substrate for use in their greenhouses. That initial foray into the substrate business went so well that they went on to sell coco peat to other growers, and when demand for their product really took off, they had to build additional factories in Sri Lanka, Brazil and India. They made a separate company, Biogrow, to handle all the new business, and now they export their product worldwide for professional greenhouse growers.

As Bruno explained, “In the Vila group the production is exclusively on coir slabs, but in Rougeline some growers still use rockwool as well. Growers are free to pick the substrate that they prefer."

Biogrow is also offering coir propagation blocks to the growers. "Many youngplant propagators still prefer rockwool cubes, because it is somewhat more difficult to automatize the distribution of coir blocks in the propagation greenhouse, thus the use of rockwool can be more convenient. However, we expect this to change in the future. Coir blocks are recyclable and much more water-efficient if you use coco peat, as rockwool tends to get very dry quickly in this environment.”

Bruno Vila showing the assortment of Rougeline vegetables during Fruit Logistica in Berlin, February 2014.

Biogrow produces 8 million bags of coco peat annually, with an average 10-15% growth every year. “We mainly export our products and sell only a smaller part in France. Our customers are from North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania. We work in 35 different countries.”-Bruno Vila said- “Big events like GreenTech in Amsterdam are also important for us, as we can make connections with new customers. Mainly we work directly with distributors and this is a perfect opportunity for new businesses.”

Biogrow has French management in four different countries with local workers in the production line. “As we have several offices and our own production we can coordinate the marketing very effectively. Since we are growers ourselves, we know exactly what growers expect from the substrate. This is why we can satisfy different needs with the highest quality material with secure and punctual delivery.”-he said.

He also mentioned that their range of products is very wide and they offer fully tailor-made products as well. "With Biogrow every combination is possible, we offer standard, buffered and also washed coir; they can manufacture any dimensions, custom-made drain cuts, planting holes, dripping holes, etc. Current sizes may range from 7-18 cm high, 20-120 cm long and 10-25 cm wide.

Biogrow is a professional coir substrates manufacturer with international grower knowhow and a long history of satisfying growers specific needs.

Biogrow has also launched a new brand, the Greenfizz for hobby market recently. These products are biodegradable and are sold with fertilisers. They are sold mainly in garden centres and by other retailers.

For more information:
Bruno Vila