How investing in a high quality substrate will increase roi
Investing in an a priori more expensive substrate may lead to a higher return on investment. Coco coir provides a smart choice, both economically and environmentally.
Types of Substrates
For soil to grow healthy plants, adequate fertility, readily water availability, and soil disease control are recognized as essential requirements. At the moment, there are numerous substrates used along with fertigation to cover these needs.
The growing medium constituents may be either from biological sources (peat, bark, coconut, and composted organic wastes), or inorganic substrates may be derived from inert sources (tuff, sand, and pumice) and processed materials (expanded clay such as perlite and vermiculite).
In this context, coco peat is the ideal cost-effective ingredient for making plant pots.
Benefits of a Soilless Medium
Soil is the universal substrate for growing plants, but the majority of farm managers look to develop soilless alternatives as a better medium specific to their plants. Among these materials, coco fiber emerges as an effective growing medium for commercial large-scale horticultural applications.
Many studies have revealed that soilless culture systems can be a solution to overcome the problems of soil salinity and soil-borne diseases (like Fusarium, Pythium, and Rhizoctonia species, root rot, including Phytophthora, Verticillium fungi, and nematodes). By avoiding the accumulation of pests and diseases encountered in conventional cultivation, you prevent plant mortality as well.
Moreover, using a soilless medium can give accuracy in irrigation — proficient growers manage to give better irrigation and fertilization regimes, thus streamlining the overall process and saving both water and fertilizer inputs. As per its resource and labor-saving properties, coir is the best-in-class product for soilless agriculture.
What is the impact on ROI?
Detached beddings are due to the high cost of transport and associated materials requirements and tend to be more expensive than conventional soil. Despite the positive effect of coco derivatives and other alternative substrates on plant growth, growers are not always ready to pay more for them.
But it must be noted that detached beddings have also become attractive investments for farmers by:
- Increasing yield thanks to precise irrigation techniques.
- Reducing the usage of fertilizers and pesticides, which has a direct impact on cost reduction and environmental pollution
- Saving water, a scarce (and sometimes costly) resource in many regions.
- Being able to reuse your substrate many cycles and providing the option to change or renew the substrate when exhausted or contaminated.
In the Netherlands, the use of an innovative growing medium resulted in 15% higher yield production, 35% reduction fertilizers needed and 60% less water consumed compared to conventional soil based farming solutions, while the dropout rate fell to 2% and life expectancy of the crop improved by 15%.
And coco coir holds promise in delivering even better results than other media. Let’s understand the logic behind the ROI of coir substrate through two extra examples.
Cultivation of eggplant in coconut requires a good drainage system, a mulch cover, substrate and plastic pots at relatively high initial cost. Yet, researchers in Thailand found it to be more profitable than soil cultivation: the fruits have larger and more uniform size, lower pesticides amounts are used which leads to healthier and more economic production.
Likewise, coir has been increasingly adopted as a single substrate for soft fruit crops such as blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. Here, the higher cost is compensated by the ability to reuse coir three or four times in growing modules for soft fruit crops.
We’ve shown the economic feasibility of investing in detached substrates, which leads to higher yields and hence higher profit. Coconut in particular is a powerful tool to address the continuous need to improve yield and quality despite higher initial costs.
Finally, it must be noted that having a good substrate is fine, but it’s not enough. The key to a successful transition from growing in soil to growing in detached substrates lies in the professional accompaniment of your project.
In the case of coir, choosing a reliable supplier that delivers quality products is very important throughout all stages of your business. The selection of materials and components necessary for soilless agriculture has to be done very carefully in order to minimize and amortize the investment.