ICL advances Levington growing media

ICL launched an improved Levington professional peat-based growing media at this week's Four Oaks Trade Show.

Jim Smith
Jim Smith

Levington Advance now has a new nutrition package as standard.

A new "bespoke growing media solutions package" called Levington Advance Solutions offers customised mixes.

ICL has also entered the professional peat-free growing media market with the launch of Levington Advance Sustain.

ICL also launched a new dual action systemic fungicide called Avatar targeting damping off and root rot in ornamentals.

ICL technical manager for growing media Dr Jim Smith said: "As standard, all Levington Advance products now include our new Start n Gro base fertilizer as well as Micromax Premium. "Providing a full trace element package, Micromax also helps safeguard crops from magnesium deficiency, an increasing problem on UK nurseries due to changing grower practices.

"The portfolio has been expanded with the addition of four Levington Advance Bloom products.  Specially designed for the pot and bedding market, these combine Levington Advance with our Osmocote Bloom controlled release technology to maximize yields. There are formulations suited to packs, small pots, autumn production or all other bedding crops."

To aid wetting up and water conservation, H2Gro is now routinely added to all Levington Advance products.      

Smith added: "Growers are looking for high performance and consistency from their growing media year on year. Growing media is only as good as its raw materials and the skill of the team producing it.  ICL has its own supply of high quality UK peat, as well as sources of equivalent quality imported peats. All stocks are carefully graded and blended at our state-of-the-art production facilities at Nutberry, in Dumfries and Galloway. We have continuously invested in the Levington brand for over 50 years."

These new Levington Advance products are due to be phased in over the coming year.   Looking ahead to 2016, ICL plans to incorporate a new improved wetting and water conservation agent and is currently trialing several biostimulants aimed at promoting good plant health.

On, peat-free Levington Advance Sustain, Smith said: "Levington has been the ‘go to’ supplier for growing media for over 50 years. Responding to demand, and developed and trialled over five years, our new peat free range keeps the Levington portfolio at the forefront of market developments.

The Levington Advance Sustain range features professional grade products specifically tailored to propagation, pot and bedding or nursery stock, including a coarse nursery stock mix.  

Smith added: "The range has been developed utilising our increased knowledge of peat alternatives and, as with all our Levington ranges, only employs professionally sourced materials produced ethically and to high standards to guarantee performance and consistency."

Fibagro, the professional new quality wood fibre product, is an important component.  Following  investment, it is processed and treated to optimise uniformity and stability. 

Another component is pine bark from sustainable sources. The smaller 0-8mm fraction has a slightly more open structure than peat, while the coarser 5-12mm fraction helps open up the growing media for larger pots and long-term crops.

The third ingredient is premium grade coir supplied by Cocogreen.

ICL does not use green waste in any of its growing media mixes.  

Smith said: "Traditional peat-free mixes contained loam to improve the buffering capabilities. The downsides are weight, potential contamination issues and a tendency to settle out.  In contrast, Levington Advance Sustain is a light bulk weight density product minimising haulage costs, to and from the nursery, while improving overall handling."  

H2Gro wetting and water conservation agent is included as standard in this range.  Peat free growing media tend to be very free draining and H2Gro helps optimise the available water holding capacity, reducing water requirement and irrigation frequency.

All Levington Advance Sustain products also contain ICL’s Start n Gro base fertiliser and Micromax Premium granules. While providing a full trace element package, Micromax Premium also helps address the increasing problem of magnesium deficiency. 

ICL technical manager for fertilisers Andrew Wilson said: "Due to changing grower practices we are seeing a marked increase in magnesium (mg) deficiency on some nurseries," "It can be a particular problem in peat free, or peat reduced, growing media mixes as less lime is needed to correct the pH. The problem seems to be further exacerbated when nurseries collect and use rainwater, which is mineral free. 

"The routine addition of Micromax Premium to our Levington ranges safeguards growers from mg deficiency problems."

Also new from ICL is a dual action systemic fungicide ‘Avatar’, targeting damping off and root rot in ornamentals. 

Wilson said: "Containing the two actives fosetyl-aluminium and propamocarb hyrochloride, Avatar has proven efficacy against oomycete diseases including Pythium spp (causing damping off) as well as Downy Mildew in broad leaved crops. Additional benefits against other oomycete diseases, such as Phytophthora species can be expected.  

"This combination of actives works by preventing mycelia growth and penetration, spore production as well as germination.  It also indirectly stimulates plant natural defences, through Systemic Acquired Resistance.  Being a co-formulation, resistance management is also improved."

The product is supplied in a liquid formation and can be applied as a drench, foliar spray or via drip irrigation.  

ICL recommend applying Avatar as a protectant programme before infection occurs.  To ward against root disease in seed sown crops, applying as a drench at sowing with a repeat application 24 hours prior to pricking out. For plug production, plants should be drenched before potting with a repeat application 10 -14 days later  To protect against downy mildew foliar spraying is recommended.

Avatar is available from ICL, working in partnership with Bayer CropScience.

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