Current and Future State of the Growing Media Industry

The rising media trade continues to face many challenges in buying, processing, transporting, and delivering some merchandise within the volumes wanted by many growers. However, there’s a unified dedication by the rising media producers to proceed working by these challenges. The rising media trade holistically has additionally skilled unstable geopolitical points across the globe affecting many uncooked supplies provides, elevated regulatory pressures on peat extraction and use, unpredictable climate patterns affecting harvests, transportation and labor shortages, in addition to a rising quantity of misinformation relating to sustainability of sure merchandise and product availability.

More Peat, Please

The previous yr has confirmed troublesome for a lot of growers who have been unable to amass the peat merchandise or product volumes they wanted. Many turned to various peat supplies when and the place doable to fill the void of decreased peat provides. Regarding peat availability, latest stories from the Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association point out that the 2022 summer season extraction season in Canada didn’t meet projected yields, which suggests extra peat provide shortages will proceed in 2023 throughout practically all peat suppliers.

It is vital for all peat customers to know that this doesn’t imply “we’re operating out of peat in Canada” however as a substitute it signifies that because of a moist summer season and different logistical challenges, peat was not in a position to be extracted on the volumes desired. They additionally can’t simply open extra bogs to extract extra peat very simply. This course of takes seven to eight years to perform, due to this fact there isn’t a “fast repair”. The producers are nonetheless closely centered on peatland restoration on older bogs as a part of their efforts to return these pure areas again into functioning ecosystems and carbon sinks.

Coconut Coir and Wood Products

As extra non-peat supplies are wanted to enhance and stretch annual peat provides, the concentrate on coconut coir as a significant part in soilless substrates has additionally elevated globally. The dependable coir suppliers are feverishly working to satisfy this demand. Development of the Mexican coir market additionally continues to evolve and hopefully will be capable of provide extra volumes sooner or later to the North American market.

Wood merchandise proceed to extend in demand and adoption by peat producers and different combine producers who have to stretch their annual peat provides. Additionally, many growers are requesting wooden merchandise to lower prices, as a result of it’s probably the most (or solely) accessible materials for them to buy, or to enhance sure facets of sustainability inside their rising operation. Confidence has grown amongst many growers over the previous a number of years relating to using wooden merchandise and the administration adjustments which might be wanted to develop efficiently.

European rising media producers now have about 25 wooden fiber amenities operational and new amenities at the moment are in Australia and New Zealand. In the U.S. there are fewer choices, however extra are on the horizon within the close to future. These new wooden suppliers will supply extra merchandise and choices for growers wanting or needing to make the swap.

The blanket assertion that “coconut coir or wooden fiber is extra sustainable than peat” will not be confirmed or factual. Much work is being executed to raised and extra completely perceive all facets of product sustainability. All uncooked supplies have a point of a unfavourable environmental impression. Peat completely does. So does wooden fiber refining, coir processing/transport, rockwool processing, and so on. Once we all know extra in regards to the true impacts, we are able to make higher knowledgeable selections about what product(s) could also be really extra sustainable for growers based mostly on their location, rising operation, and so on. All product producers are conscious of this and are engaged on intensive sustainability, life cycle, and improved circularity efforts.

As has been reported a number of occasions up to now few years, the worldwide demand for soilless substrates is anticipated to extend greater than 400% by the yr 2050 (Figure 3). This demand is being fueled by elevated crop manufacturing, newer crops being transitioned from soil to soilless manufacturing (i.e., smooth fruit), a booming mushroom trade, and the rise in dwelling gardening. The important significance of recent various product growth has by no means been higher.

With a lot progress and motion within the controlled-environment manufacturing of extra consumable crops, rising media is important in the way forward for meals manufacturing, meals safety, and nationwide safety. Even Congress is now conscious of the challenges and significance of peat and rising media, highlighted lately by a congressional briefing on Sept. 30, 2022 to tell members of the House Agriculture Committee of the problems, challenges, and necessity of rising media.

Growing media producers are conscious of the challenges that product shortages and growing prices are having on growers and are doing all the things doable to seek out short- and long-term options. For growers, communication is vital as is the worth of robust relationships and dedicated partnerships with their product suppliers. Oh yeah, and everybody ought to proceed putting orders as early as doable!