Coco slabs could slash water requirement for tomato cultivation, Dutch Plantin trials suggest

Using coco coir in tomato cultivation could reduce water and fertiliser feed requirements by up to 20%, trials have found.

The typical water flow within the Dutch Plantin double layer coco slab, made visible using a water soluble blue dye in the watering system - image: Plant Research
The typical water flow within the Dutch Plantin double layer coco slab, made visible using a water soluble blue dye in the watering system - image: Plant Research

Greenhouse trials testing the performance of DP Optima ™ double layer coco slabs from Dutch Plantin found it reduced the need for water and fertiliser feed by between 10 and 20% compared to comparable rock wool slabs.

Trials carried out in 2011 at the facilities of PlantResearch in Made, the Netherlands, and commissioned by Dutch Plantin, found tomato yields could be maintained whilst making the savings.

Dutch Plantin suggested the results made coco slabs "well suited for areas where water is a limiting factor in horticultural production."

However the product could also provide environmental benefits to European and North American markets by reducing need for waste water cleaning and decontamination and by being fully recyclable, Dutch Plantin added.

PlantResearch senior researcher Ron Galiart MSc said:

"The result of this trial has significant environmental benefits. Less drainage means fewer waste nutrients seep into the environment.  Further many of the regions that see an increase in demand for fresh vegetables also happen to be disadvantaged by a limited supply of fresh water.

"Our research has shown that the DP Optima coco slabs will still offer a good yield due to their water-retention capacity and thus positively contribute to feeding our world".

The trial ran from late January until mid-December 2011 in a 180m² greenhouse without additional CO2 dosage or assimilation lighting. The tomato variety used was Solanum lycopersicon L. var. ‘Ever’, with a plant density of 1.4 plants per m2 and a fertilizer feed of EC 3.5 mS/cm and pH 5.2.

For more information www.dutchplantin.com

PlantResearch BV is a dedicated, independent research and consultancy company specialized in substrates, organic and non-organic fertilizers and growth enhancing products for the horticultural industry. For more information:  www.plantresearch.com.


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