Innovative products displayed to leafy-salad growers

A range of new technologies was on display at this year's British Leafy Salads Association (BLSA) Conference as the industry continues to innovate.

Salads: Salmac has solution for removing debris. Image: Morguefile
Salads: Salmac has solution for removing debris. Image: Morguefile

Gromax Industries

Gromax Industries was promoting its biodegradable mulching film Gro-Clean Bio-Mulch to growers as an environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional mulching films.

Company director Simon Brett said: "We have produced a mulching film that is 100 per cent compostable and leaves zero residues in the soil. It can remove all growers' disposal costs. It's becoming more and more popular. I hope and believe that one day everyone will be using it."

The film, which has gained organic certification, can be incorporated into the soil at the point of harvest and, once buried, decomposes along with the other vegetable matter. It helps to prevent sunlight reaching the soil, slows down weed seed germinations and creates a barrier against airborne weeds. Brett said the product also creates a micro-climate that speeds up root growth.

Gromax, based in Ipswich, was also promoting its Gromax Ultimate 1823 at the conference - a technology that reinforces its Gro-Fleece crop covers by adding more material close to the seams of the fleece. "The product increases the strength of the traditional fleece by 50 per cent, without dramatically increasing the cost," said Brett.


Fresh-produce machinery dealer Salmac, based in West Sussex, has several new products available to growers that it has sourced from Europe.

These include a stand-alone shaker table from its Italian supplier Ortomec. The table has been designed for the removal of small bits and pieces such as leaves, cotyledons, insects and stones from all baby leaf and salad crops.

It can be added to most existing units as well as to other makes of machine. It also has the option of various size inserts and will be available to the smaller pack houses as a complete unit with conveyors and a discharge unit in the new year.

Also new from Ortomec is the optional electronic control panel for all self-propelled machines. Salmac representative Thomas Jones said: "This has the advantage of being able to tell the user what is wrong with a machine in the event of it breaking down."

Its second new product available to salad growers is the CultiClean bed former burners from the Dutch firm HOAF.

Jones said: "After having completed extensive trials work and being sent to a university in Holland for independent trials, the first of these machines will be in the UK for the beginning of the 2011 season. They will be working on salad and carrot crops."

Salmac has also become the UK agent for the Struik bed former, which can be used as the base unit for the CultiClean.


Preston-based Agritec International this year became the sole UK agent for all Drywhite processing products - including its new chlorine-free salad wash for growers, packers and processors. The product was showcased to salad growers for the first time at this year's BLSA conference.

Managing director Peter Gresty said: "It's chlorine free, which we feel is a real point of difference compared to much of what the industry is actually using at the moment. It's a real alternative to other chlorine-based washes and has been widely used in the industry on carrots for about four or five months."

PP Products

Horticultural and agricultural supplier PP Products has introduced a CO2 foliar fertiliser named Lithovit to UK growers.

Paul Corfield told Grower that the calcium-rich product was already popular in other parts of the world and with show vegetable growers such as Medwyn Williams.

He said it brought the kind of CO2-enrichment technology used in glasshouses to outdoor crops. This is because the German-made product contains tiny deposits of limestone that are sprayed onto the leaf surfaces in a 0.5 per cent suspension in water. The particles go through the plants' stomata before being converted into CO2.

Corfield said: "In this way it can considerably increase the photosynthesis rate since the essential factor limiting photosynthesis outdoors is the natural CO2 content of the air."

The product has already been used by a few salad and brassica growers throughout the country and is approved by the Organic Farmers & Growers and the Soil Association.

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