Dutch to develop new substrates from natural materials

Researchers in the Netherlands are seeking partners for a programme to develop growing media from alternative raw materials including grass, flax and hemp.

Hemp stem and fibres - image: Wikimedia Commons/Natrij
Hemp stem and fibres - image: Wikimedia Commons/Natrij

Wageningen University & Research's Food & Biobased Research (FBR) Institute aims to develop a substrate that meets quality demands and is also sustainable and biodegradable and does not require separation for disposal after use.

FBR researcher Jeroen van Bon said: "Today's substrates such as mineral wool and peat have the required properties like water and air retention but are less sustainable. The production process is energy-intensive for mineral wool, or leads to high CO2 emissions in the case of peat, and many are not biodegradable."

The biggest challenge is likely to be turning the raw material into a medium that remains stable while providing a balanced moisture, oxygen and nutrient supply to plants, he added.


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