Several of North America’s largest growers have trialed HydraFiber mixes, realized some key business efficiencies, and are transitioning their soil and media strategies to this innovative and sustainable substrate. Among the HydraFiber advantages:
- 10 to 35% more available water to plants due to the high surface area of the fibers
- Better air space and improved root zone development from the 98% porous material
- Expedited shipping available for all standard HydraFiber formulations
- Locked-in contract pricing available
- Arrives unfrozen and ready to use
Throughout their trialing, growers are quick to see that while HydraFiber is a truly unique raw material, it is also extremely easy to integrate this mix component into their programs. After running trials with HydraFiber in 2016, Brent Troost, Head Grower at ColorPoint Illinois reported, “We have not had to make any changes to our fertilization practices or plant growth regulation strategies. The transition to HydraFiber has been seamless.”
Chad Cagle, Head Grower at ColorPoint’s Kentucky location echoes Brent’s thoughts, “There really wasn’t a big different in production methods with HydraFiber versus peat and perlite.” Production teams at Battlefield Farms, South Central Growers, Color Spot Nurseries and other large operations agree that their cultural practices remained status quo.
What makes HydraFiber different from other substrates is the unique Thermally Refined® process that creates singulated, small-diameter, long and thin strands from renewable and virgin southern yellow pine (Pinus taeda / loblolly pine). The tremendous surface area of the HydraFiber fibers – up to seven times greater than peat – results in enhanced root development, high porosity and very low bulk density.
Tips on using flat filling equipment with HydraFiber blends
HydraFiber’s many advantages come from the fact that it is a very structured raw material that is very light and fluffy. When dropping HydraFiber mix from your flat filling machine into small cell containers like 1006 packs and small pots, this lighter weight can sometimes create voids. Daniel Norden, HydraFiber’s R&D and Technical Services Director, tells growers that it only takes a few easy adjustments to manage compaction and compression, as well as material flow out of the hopper.
- Layer 2 to 3 inches of mix on the top of the flats or pots.
- Set the plow 2 to 3 inches above the tray to level off the mix.
- Set agitators at the level of the flats or pots being filled to effectively compact the mix into the cells.
- Also set the rollers at container level. An option is to stagger the agitator and roller heights for stages of compression.
- Set the brushes as usual to clean the tops.
- Set the propeller at container level and increase the propeller speed to help compress the mix into the cells.
- Improve material flow with an AgriNomix Soil Conditioner to create a water-like flow of mix with no clumps. This allows the mix particles to fall very efficiently into the bottom of the cells and eliminate voids.
Daniel and the entire HydraFiber team are committed to working with growers to make sure their substrates work harder, and eliminate quality, storage and availability issues. HydraFiber is available year-round as a raw material to growers who mix their own media, and is also incorporated into blends from several pre-mix partners, including Berger, Gro-Bark, Oldcastle and Ball Seed.
Growers are encouraged to “start small” with free HydraFiber trials to see the proven results for themselves. To learn more about the HydraFiber difference and start your trials, contact Jennifer Neujahr at [email protected] or 630-386-5926. She would also be happy to connect interested parties with growers across the country who are willing to share their story on the switch to HydraFiber.