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The root environment directly affects the yield and quality of crops, especially for hydroponic cultivation, different substrates provide different root environments for crops.
The Netherlands is a leading agricultural country in the world. In the field of hydroponic cultivation in the Netherlands, rock wool is mostly used as the substrate for cultivation, especially in the hydroponic cultivation tomato industry. The production area of this substrate accounts for more than 90% of the total production area. , and even the main hydroponic culture medium in Europe.
Taking China's hydroponic cultivation tomato industry as an example, coco peat was mostly used as the planting substrate in the past. In recent years, with the growing advantages of rock wool substrates, many growers want to change the coco substrate to rock wool for planting. But there are also some growers who worry about whether the properties of the substrate will help the growth of tomatoes when they switch from one substrate to another. Or is it possible to add some cost and labor?
In fact, from a long-term and overall perspective, the tomato hydroponic cultivation industry uses rock wool substrates for planting, which is not only more beneficial to the growth of tomatoes, but also can reduce indirect planting costs and Improve planting efficiency.
Then, compared with the coco peat substrate, why can the rock wool substrate take the lead in the field of hydroponic cultivation in the Netherlands and even in the whole of Europe? Let's demystify it.
① Prevention and control of pests and diseases
The rock wool substrate is an inorganic matrix, made of natural basalt melted at a high temperature of 1500°, and does not carry any harmful organisms such as pathogenic bacteria and insect eggs, which can greatly reduce the cost of preventing and controlling soil-borne diseases and insect pests, and reduce management and production expenses .
Compared with the rock wool substrate, coco peat is a by-product of coconut shell processing, which is an organic matrix, and it is easy to retain residual plant protein, insect eggs, and pathogenic bacteria. Once the disinfection is not thorough before use, it is very easy to cause the occurrence of pest problems in the tomato planting process.
② Green and Eco-friendly
The rock wool substrate is a green and harmless natural substrate, which can be directly soaked when used for tomato planting, and the rock wool is a clean substrate, the return liquid is clear and free of impurities, and can be recycled in the early stage of planting, about 78% of the water and fertilizer not absorbed by plants can be recycled. To avoid environmental pollution caused by the random discharge of water and fertilizer, which has very good environmental protection significance.
Different with the rock wool substrate, although the coconut peat substrate is also derived from natural materials, the initial EC (conductivity) value of untreated coconut peat is as high as 5-7ms/cm, which is naturally toxic to plant growth. Therefore, before planting, it usually needs to be washed for more than three times to reduce the EC value to a safe range of plant growth below 1ms/cm, to meet the requirements for use. At the same time, when the coconut bran substrate is used for hydroponic cultivation of tomatoes, the drainage liquid cannot be recycled and used within 2-4 months in the early stage of planting, and can only be treated through the sewage system. Compared with the rock wool substrate, coco undoubtedly increases more waste of water resources and labor costs.
In addition, coco peat is composed of small particles of fiber and other organic substances, with a lot of fines and dust, which is easy to pollute the environment during transportation and use, and increase cleaning costs. Especially in large-scale greenhouses, fine dust is easy to adhere to insect-proof nets, glass, curtains, cultivation tanks, floors, etc., making cleaning more difficult and labor-intensive.
③ Precise control
Rock wool is the most inert substrate, with a neutral and stable PH value. The substrate environment can be basically the same for each batch of output. It only plays the role of fixing crops and will not mix with the nutrient solution during tomato planting. The physical or chemical reaction of any component will greatly reduce the unpredictability of tomato hydroponic planting in the control of nutrient solution components. The nutrients and water needed for tomato growth can be accurately controlled, reducing the cost of nutrient unpredictable spending.
Different with the rock wool substrate, the coconut bran substrate itself has certain nutrient adsorption and release capabilities, which means that the coconut bran substrate will have a certain reaction with the nutrient solution, which will affect the nutrient element content ratio and pH value of the nutrient solution in tomato planting, which increases the demand for nutrient solution testing and adjustment, increases the unpredictability of nutrient solution costs, and also increases the corresponding workload and reduces planting efficiency. Once there is a mistake in the deployment process, it is often easy to cause crop yield reduction and other situations.
④ Suitable for large-scale planting
With the increasing scale of modern agricultural operations, production specialization, mechanization and automation, rock wool substrates with stable and uniform shape and structure can fully realize automatic and intelligent operations in modern technological agricultural hydroponic tomato planting. Rock wool can be used in the same planting scheme, which can eliminate the impact of human factors on tomato planting, reduce labor costs, and improve work efficiency. Relatively speaking, it is more suitable for large-scale planting in modern agriculture.
Different with the rock wool substrates, the difference in the source of origin causes the planting plan of each batch of coconut peat to be "unstable". Different growth environments and production process influences have resulted in different brands and batches of coconut bran. Bran has a completely different nutritional content and pH value. Every time a batch of coconut bran is replaced, the producer needs to customize a different planting plan. This is very important for growers who pursue product quality consistency and modern agriculture with a high degree of scale, production specialization, mechanization and automation trends, it is challenging.
Rock wool substrate, as a planting substrate widely recognized and used in the European agricultural field, is also widely used in many large-scale greenhouses in China. It has advantages unmatched by other substrates in terms of prevention and control of diseases and insect pests, green environmental protection, precise control, and automatic seedling cultivation. Although the facilities and conditions of different growers are different, and the substrate requirements are also different, we still encourage growers to try rock wool substrate planting.