Photo courtesy of Berger

Sometimes, growers can underestimate the importance of growing media and how it can take their operation to the next level. Below, Berger Technical Supervisor Pierre-Marc de Champlain explains how the right growing media can save growers money, how to choose the right media, and more.

Greenhouse Management: What are some of the trends you see in growing media?

Pierre-Marc de Champlain: Wood fiber has definitely been growing over the last few years. We’ve been manufacturing products with wood fiber for four or five years. I think initially growers were skeptical to use it, but there are now significant improvements made with those products. We know how to use [them] much better now. In terms of seeding mixes, we see growers moving toward products with much lower, if any, starter charge in the mix to have more control over their initial fertilizations.

GM: What advantages can wood fiber offer growers?

PC: It is renewable product, so it’s a greener product compared to vermiculite or perlite. It’s also sourced more locally than the ore of vermiculite or perlite, which often comes from Africa or Brazil or Greece. It’s also more compressible, so you can also use more per bale for a given weight. It's very low density, even compared to peat moss. It offers a big advantage for [shipping].

GM: Why is getting a quality growing media mix important for growers?

PC: I see growing media as the foundation. If you build a strong foundation and get off to a good start, it’s a lot easier later on to get nice uniform results and the results you’re actually looking for. But if you start off with a rotten foundation, or have a foundation with some issues, you’re going to have issues down the line.

GM: Why is investing in a good growing media mix worthwhile for growers?

PC: A lot of growers look at the initial price of the growing media and that’s all they look at. They see what they’re paying off the bat and they don’t see what they could be saving by using a high-quality mix. So, you pay a little bit more initially, but you get your money back, and more, if you have fewer losses.

GM: How can Berger help growers select the right growing media?

PC: When we have a new customer, we look at what they’re producing, and we have a strong technical team that has worked in all kinds of environments and situations. We’re in a strong position to be able to make the right recommendation. We’re used to making a match with a particular situation for growers. Sometimes we do a small portion of their production through trials and then increase production over time. The proof is in the pudding — you see it in the results. — Interviewed by Chris Manning