Hydroponic Lettuce growing systems

Safe substrates

The health benefits and safety of our food is more relevant now than ever. With a pandemic affecting the global population people need to be able to rely on the safety of their food. That means growers take great care to follow the right safety procedures and treat their crops with care. The substrates used also need to be on top of this, as it is a possible source of contamination. We take this very seriously as well and want to make sure growers know they can rely on our products. In this article we explain everything a grower needs to know about our safe substrates.

While creating our high-quality mixtures, we take great care to ensure safety. We always handle our raw materials and end products in a way that ensures you of being supplied with safe substrates. Here’s how we do it.

Handling and storing materials with care

We make sure our raw materials and ready-to-use substrates are stored and handled in a hygienic environment. We only use high-quality raw materials, from reliable sources. Once we receive these components we make sure to run quality checks. We’ve listed some of the other things we do to ensure you of safe substrates below:

  • We work in an orderly fashion following important safety guidelines.
  • We take great care to make sure our production sites are clean and free of sources of contamination like weeds or pests.
  • Our tools and machinery are cleaned periodically.
  • We store our raw materials in a sheltered environment. As a result we limit the risk of contamination through weather conditions like rain and wind.
  • We periodically take samples of the raw materials and products to ensure safety.
  • We use reliable packaging materials to make sure our substrates reach our customers in the desired condition.

Let’s have another look at these high-quality raw materials we mentioned earlier.

Peat; a clean and safe material

One of the main components of our substrates is European peat. Not only does this raw material bring excellent properties to the mixtures that benefit plant growth, it is also extremely safe to use. If harvested in the right locations and handled right, peat is one of the safest and most reliable materials we could use.

Harvesting location adds to safe substrates

We harvest our peat from age-old peatlands in Europe. When selecting the harvesting areas we do not only check the overall peat quality and accessibility. We also make sure the peat we use in substrates is harvested from peatlands that are located in remote areas. This means they are not close to human settlement or activities that could cause any type of pollution. In addition we make sure the peatlands have not been used for farming in the past. By making sure the peatlands have never been in inhabited and cultivated areas, we can ensure our growers the raw material is clean and safe.

Peat is formed by decomposed plant parts. Therefore it contains a lot of history as well. If we can make sure the peat does not contain decomposed plant material from cultivation, the possibility of it containing these pathogens is very low.

However, this does not mean the peat we use in our safe substrates does not contain any microbes. On the contrary, it contains lots of them! But the microorganisms in it actually benefit the safety of the substrates. Let’s investigate how that works.

Microbes in peat help control plant disease

So, during the long decomposition process peat undergoes it attracts several types of friendly microbes. When we use this peat in our safe substrates we want those microbes to remain present as they make sure the mixture is active and supports plants. These microbes can actually support the plants and prevent plant disease in different ways. The first type of microbe benefit the distribution of nutrients throughout the substrates, which positively influences the nutritional intake of the plants.

Other microbes actually suppress common pathogens by breaking them down. This process renders the microbes harmless, which aids the plants. Then there are specific microbes that practically scare off the bad guys. They do this through the substances they produce. These substances actually serve as natural antibiotics.

Some beneficial microbes even create a symbiotic coexistence with plant roots. When doing so they create physical boundaries (like ‘microfilm’) around the roots. As a result harmful fungal mycelium are unable to penetrate and damage the plant tissue, keeping plant roots healthy!

And finally, some pleasant fungi species will actually use the same nutrients as potentially damaging microbes might use, minimising their opportunities to get a foothold in the substrates.

As you can see these friendly microbes really protect and benefit you plants in many ways, enabling you to focus on food safety.

With our peat-based safe substrates a grower is sure of an excellent base for food safety.