A Q&A on trends in media mixes, with Sun Gro’s Dan Jacques, Technical Services, and Kathryn Louis, Research & Regulatory Services –
- What can you tell me about Sun Gro’s media mixes and components products for greenhouse growers?
Sun Gro is the largest supplier of professional growing media in North America. We also are the leading manufacturer of Canadian Sphagnum peat in North America. We combine the best quality components such as bark, perlite and vermiculite, with our peat, to make up growing media for professional and consumer uses. Sun Gro has a dedicated research group working on new and innovative products such as the silicon enriched RESiLIENCE™ products.
- What trends or new developments have you noticed regarding media mixes/components or equipment/technology?
Increased interest in Natural & Organic media, as well as custom blend option of incorporation of biological organisms that enhance growth or disease resistance has been the biggest changes we have seen in the industry. It seems to be going from a niche market to becoming more main-stream.
- Do you have any new products or anything that’s currently in the works for this category?
Sun Gro has a number of OMRI listed Natural & Organic growing media for both professional growers and consumers. In addition to that, we offer Natural & Organic growing mixes that include mycorrhizae, which have been shown to enhance phosphorus uptake. We also offer custom blended Natural & Organic mixes which include the bio-pesticides RootShield™ and RootShield Plus
Our newest product line, both in our standard formulations as well as in our Natural & Organic products, is the introduction of our RESiLIENCE™ also known as RSi mixes. This is a patented process of incorporating plant-available silicon into growing media. The addition of RESiLIENCE™ is now standard in all professional and consumer mixes.
There has been a great deal of research in recent years on the benefits of incorporating silicon into growing mixes, both at Sun Gro and in the Academic and Government research areas. Some of the key results indicate potential for improved root development, better branching, drought tolerance, thicker stems, earlier flowering and stress avoidance. University research has also shown improved tolerance to some diseases and insects.
- How do you see media mixes and equipment changing in the next few years?
The industry overall seems to be shifting to larger growing operations, which tends to gravitate toward more automation. In turn, packaging product in formats that better lend themselves to automation seems to be a big trend. Many are going away from smaller formats, such as 2.8 cubic foot loosefill and 3.8 cubic foot compressed products to bulk/mini bulk products and larger compressed formats such as 110, 120 or 135 cubic foot compressed bales.
- What products are most popular with your greenhouse clients?
Mixes such as Fafard 1P RSi, Sunshine #1 RSi, Sunshine and Fafard #15 RSi, Metro Mix 820 RSi, Metro Mix 830 RSi, Metro Mix 852 RSi, Fafard 3B RSi and Fafard 52 RSi are some of our top selling mixes.
- Have you noticed growers looking for sustainable solutions? What are they asking for?
The trend has been to move away from the “sustainable” label to looking more at whether or not components are environmentally conscious. Media containing components such as Canadian Sphagnum Peat, composted bark, coconut coir and locally available composts would fall into these categories. The larger format packaging also reduces waste. Another area where we have seen significant increase, has been in Natural & Organic mixes.