A new coco substrate enriched with compost combines the structural benefits of coco substrate with the nutritional benefits of substrates like peat moss, says Leonardo Juarez with The Grower, the company that developed this Ultra-Coco blend. “All growers that tried this locally mixed substrate, noticed stronger, more resistant plants and are now using it in a bigger part of their cultivation.”
Covid brought several challenges to the substrate industry. One of the major challenges was the crisis with logistics, which resulted in significant cost increases and delay in delivery for substrate products. “These challenges changed not only our way of working, but also our minds”, says Leonardo. “At the same time, we’ve seen the struggle in the peat moss industry, with growers and suppliers looking for alternatives. We wanted to develop a new substrate to combine the nutritional benefits many users of peat moss are looking for, but also offering the structure benefits valued highly by coco peat users.”
The team at The Grower has been working on developing this new solution and found a way to process manure and mix it with the coco peat. The result is a substrate that provides a buffer of nutrition, and still offers the structure benefits of coco peat.
The Grower has tested the mixture for a year and a half with several growers. “The growers, active in growing tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, or berries, noticed the new mixture resulted in stronger, more resistant young plants that proved to be more resilient after transplanting”, says Leonardo. “Once production started, the plants were healthier and stronger.”
He adds he expected a strong result, but seeing the trial lines compared to the rest of the greenhouse, was amazing. “Really incredible. The UltraCoco substrate is powerful in nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. The addition of manure creates a substrate filled with humic and fluvic acids. So far we see the results last for at least four to six months.” And, what’s most important: all growers trialing the substrate, have decided to change a larger part or even their total crop to this new mixture. “It brings them a stronger crop and better overall results.”
The substrate is mixed in Spain. “We bring the coco peat in from our facilities in Sri Lanka and India in semi-compressed blocks. Depending on the grower, the structure and mixture is created – just like with our regular substrate deliveries – to create a substrate that answers the growers request in terms of aeration and drainage.” The UltraCoco blend is supplied to growers in big bags.
Unlike peat moss, which is extracted from nature, this substrate is made from coco and organic waste that would otherwise be discarded, Leonardo says. “The manure is locally produced by organic farms in our region and is processed through composting, making it an eco-friendly solution that helps reduce waste.” The compost process is adjusted to ensure a completely stabilized mixture, free of pathogens, pests, or seeds.
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