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"Canada: "Nobody wants to take the risk with unwashed bags"

Washed growbags, super washed? What does it mean and why do some growers prefer these bags? We asked Rafael Bolinches of Projar about it; his company supplies washed and unwashed growbags to growers all over the world. "Leamington is an important area for us in regards to washed growbags, there is no grower that wants to take the risk with using unwashed bags."

Especially in areas with a high concentration of greenhouse companies, authorities require growers to invest in purification technologies to prevent the release of nutrients and fertilizers into surface water. Due to these strict regulations, growers in a concentrated greenhouse area like Leamington, Ontario, are required to recirculate their irrigation water at any time of the year; also when they are preparing for the new season and are filling and expanding the new bags for the first time.

Tea water

"When you fill a regular, non super washed, compressed coir growbag for the first time, the drain water will be brown, like tea water," explained Bolinches. "This water contains finer particles of coco material, dust and tannins."

Bolinches said that certain growers do not want to have that tea water because they require clear water that can be treated with their water purification installation. "Most Canadian growers are using UV treatment purificators, these installations cannot disinfect the brown 'tea water' effectively enough, hence they require bags that have clean water when they drain for the first time."

Extra washing treatment

In order to offer a solution for this problem, manufacturers of coir growing media, started to develop washing methods to clean the bags during the production process. "For the production of regular coir products, the material is washed anyhow, but during the super washing process, the coir gets an extra treatment to ensure that all potash, dust, tannins, high levels of sodium and chloride, and other sediments are removed from the material. This ensures the grower that the first run-off from the slabs will be clean enough to recirculate with the UV treatment and that it won't harm the vulnerable young plants when transplanted."

Left the first drainage water from a Golden Grow Super washed bag of Projar, and on the right the first drainage water from a standard coir grow bag.

Policella Farms

Bolinches explained that several Canadian growers in the Leamington area have seen good results with Projar's grow bags Golden Grow, which are extra washed. "The growers ran several trials to compare them with other bags, and they came to the conclusion that the run off of our bags was super clean. Further side by side trials were not necessary to see the differences; the clean wash of the product was noticed at the direct moment of drainage."

Since 2010, Policella Farms has been using Projar's Golden Grow extra washed bags in their tomato greenhouses. At the beginning grower Domenic Policella was skeptical, but later on he saw that the run off was super clean, and he turned his UV treatment on. "It’s that clean. It works as advertised," said the grower.

Projar's Paco López providing consultancy for a greenhouse grower.

The super washed growbags are wanted by more growers in Canada, but Bolinches also explained that the lack of supply has resulted in the adaptation of another substrate. "At Projar we have increased our production capacities of super washed growbags to ensure that we can meet the demand for coming campaigns, but not every supplier can keep up his production with the demand for super washed coir bags, as it takes more time and effort to produce these bags.”

Antonio Gómez of Greenhouse Depot Inc. (Canadian distributor for Projar's Golden Grow) together with Paco López and Rafael Bolinches Projar.

About Projar

Established in 20 countries worldwide, the Projar Group of Companies has an annual turnover of €18 million with the development and marketing of agricultural supplies. They produce substrates in their own factories in Sri Lanka, India and Spain and have a large presence in their home market in Almeria, Spain.

In Canada, Projar's ISO and OMRI certified substrates are available via Greenhouse Depot Inc.

For more information:
Golden Grow by Projar
Rafael Bolinches