Retail compost manufacturers are under continual pressure from consumer/environmental groups and social media/journalists to find a suitable long-term substitute for the damaging carbon releasing effects of removing peat, yet still maintain or improve the quality of the compost in their retail offering.
Two ingredients which are currently most commonly used in non-peat compost bags are coir (cocopeat) and green plant waste. Both have advantages, however, they also present challenging production issues which need to be overcome.
There is a Solution!
Engage Crop Solutions has been researching this important area for over two years and have now developed multiple technologies and strategies to overcome the following issues.
Virgin coir is dried to 11% moisture content for shipping around the world and although not hydrophobic can be extremely difficult and time consuming to rehydrate. Also, in many cases coir has naturally high salt levels unless prebuffered at source. Coir hydration speed, uniformity in moisture content and salt reduction in production is paramount.
Engage bespoke products/technologies, working alongside an industry partner with hundreds of tests over two years, we have proven to:
- Reduce hydration times by up over 60%.
- Improved retention of moisture post hydration by up to 69%
- Expansion/out turn from coir blocks increased to an average of 17L of hydrated coir per 1kg of dried coir, equating to 85L per 5kg block. As coir suppliers recommendations are between 70-75L per 5kg block, this represents a 14-22% increase.
- Reduction of water requirement to hydrate was consistently reduced by 25%.
- Consistent reduction of salts by over 80%
- All data leads to significant costs savings in production
- Product designed to match your specific needs using bespoke solutions and strategies.
Green waste compost has significant environmental and sustainability benefits, however, a key issues are quality and consistency. Green plant waste retains much of the previous plant material makeup in terms of salts, especially heavy metals which need to be reduced to make it viable for extended use. The pH of Green waste is also an issue as it is normally above 8.0 or higher and comes with a strong buffer capacity which would be problematic when added to retail compost. This requires correction to 6.5-7.0, which is difficult to achieve.
Work by Engage focused on these two major issues during the research period and Engage products have proven to:
- Significantly reduce EC/salt levels by up to 90%
- Reduce pH levels consistently to 6.5-7.0
- Reductions allow for higher % use in retail substrates.
- All Products designed to match your specific needs/bespoke solutions and strategies.
During the process of evaluating coir and green waste, using Engage bespoke products, the following multiple long-term benefits for the end product retail compost bag have been proven:
- The reductions in pH and buffering in green waste compost, due to the formulation of products applied not only creates a better growing environment but provides longer term pH stability (up to three months)
- The reduction of salts and heavy metals from the green waste not only support its continued use, but it will also make it a valuable part of the blend for the future.
- The reduction of water and increased out turn from the coir reduces overall cost per litre of end product.
- The reduction of salts in coir creates a far growing environment for plants and allows for the addition of base fertilisers to enhance plant growth further.
- The hydration technologies from Engage allow for extended rewetting of up to 8 months in storage and up to four months in use.
Overall, by using Engage bespoke products, for compost manufacture, retail compost manufacturers will improve the quality of compost and witness production cost savings, with a premium offer to market.
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