Since 2008, when the Fafard Research Leader Program launched, interns have been conducting research to help design new growing media formulations at large, commercial greenhouse operations across the United States.
Essentially, research projects have examined how different raw materials, soil amendments and additives used in media perform in different greenhouse settings. Fafard, then, has used much of that research to design a pair of growing media options that are now available to growers: Fafard’s Young Plant Mix, a combination of peat, perlite and vermiculite that’s packaged in compressed bales; and mixes that directly incorporate Scotts’ new Osmocote Start controlled-release fertilizer.
“We’ve been doing the research and development within the Fafard Research Leader Program the last two years, and it’s been very successful,” says Bruce Adams, Fafard marketing manager for grower products. “With the support of Syngenta, we’ve been able to launch two new products for this past season. Typically, you’d have to go years before you see new, innovative products.”
Young Plant Mix
Fafard’s new Young Plant Mix features superfine, stick-free, horticultural-grade peat that’s formulated for plug and liner production, including Ellepots. It’s available from Canada in a 110-cubic-foot Hi-Rise compressed bale, as well as in smaller sizes. The mix is designed for direct seeding or rooting cuttings into 1.25-inch trays or smaller, as well as Ellepot systems of 30 millimeters or smaller.
“These are primarily positioned for the large grower producing their own plugs,” says Jamie Gibson, Fafard director of research and development. “When we trialed the mix in commercial greenhouses, we found the mix produced well-toned, compact and easy-to-pull plugs.
Fafard’s Young Plant Mix is also available in 3.8-, 55- and 64-cubic-foot compressed bales. The mix can be customized with requested additives.
Mixes With Osmocote Start
In addition to its Young Plant Mix, Fafard now has the rights to nourish any of its standard mixes with Osmocote Start. Through its research, Fafard found Osmocote Start provides complete and balanced feed for up to six weeks and eliminates mix and feed mistakes associated with water-soluble fertilizers. The addition of Osmocote Start to mixes also reduces nitrogen and phosphorus leaching and runoff.
“Osmocote Start in growing media is another tool the greenhouse grower can use to reduce the amount of nutrient loss from a container,” Gibson says. “We incorporate the mini-prill, which provides a six-week supply of nutrients to the plant. The Osmocote Start provides a consistent flow of nutrients to the plant as they are needed. You don’t create an excessive amount of fertility, which subsequently leads to nutrient runoff–a common occurrence with liquid-feed programs.”
Osmocote Start is a coated, complete N-P-K plus micronutrients, controlled-release fertilizer. Its miniature prills deliver even fertilizer distribution and promote uniform results and better root development.
“This is an exclusive we have negotiated with Scotts to work with Osmocote Start,” says Hugh Poole, Fafard technical services director. “Osmocote Start caught our attention in our early research using mini prills. We found we really needed a fertilizer release in the early stage of a plant program rather than later on, and that led to discussions with Scotts.”
Growers interested in learning more about Fafard mixes with Osmocote Start, the company’s Young Plant Mix or other growing media offerings should visit Fafard.com.