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More sustainable growing medium

PLANT FIBRES AND COMPOST AS RENEWABLE RAW MATERIALS

Compost and plant fibres (wood fibre, miscanthus straw, heather chopper, flax straw, etc.) are a sustainable alternative to peat in cultivation substrates. Compost is a source of fibres, nutrients and microbiology, which means that the fertilization of the substrate has to be adapted, and we therefore need to use less mineral fertilizers. Plant fibres vary in their degree of biodegradability and the extent to which they can capture or release nitrogen. Moreover, plant fibres can be inoculated with biocontrol fungi, which reduces the need for crop protection products. Biochar and chitin can reduce the plants’ susceptibility to diseases and pests.

A CLEAR LINK WITH CLIMATE CHANGE

Replacing peat with these local and sustainably renewable raw materials in substrate cultivation reduces emissions due to the reclamation of peatlands elsewhere in Europe and during transport to Flanders. This is good news for reducing our impact on the climate. The lower use of artificial fertilisers and crop protection products also reduces emissions and energy consumption during the production of these substances.

A MULTIDISCIPLINARY APPROACH PAYS OFF!

Through chemical analyses of substrates, DNA-based techniques, incubation tests and greenhouse tests, we investigate the interaction between the chemical, physical and biological properties of alternative and sustainable substrate mixtures based on plant fibres (wood fibre, miscanthus, heather chopper, flax straw, ...) and different types of compost. Used crop substrates were then also tested as a raw material for composting.

TOGETHER WITH VARIOUS PROJECT PARTNERS, THE FOLLOWING PROJECTS WERE CARRIED OUT IN FUNCTION OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF SUSTAINABLE CULTIVATION SUBSTRATES:

An overview of the results (pdf)

More information: bart.vandecasteele@ilvo.vlaanderen.be, jane.debode@ilvo.vlaanderen.be, hilde.muylle@ilvo.vlaanderen.be

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