Many Dutch strawberry growers have made the switch from loose cocopeat to coir substrate disks, to improve the efficiency of planting.
Botanicoir discs are supplied compressed and flat and can be designed with a pre-drilled hole in the centre to facilitate the wetting up process. When wetted up, the disks expand easily to create optimum quality growing media. The disks are very easy to put in the pots, avoiding having to deal with bulk coir and helping to keep labour costs down.
One early adopter of the disks, Ton Groot, from Hoogwoud in The Netherlands, opted to change to Botanicoir disks because his planting system was time and labour intensive, now he’s able to have all 12,500 pots filled within a day of the substrate’s arrival.
The disks are an excellent alternative to bulk substrate, and ideal for those that already have a pot planting system in place, as the dimensions can be customised.
“Before the disks, the warehouse was full of loose cocopeat and the whole team was wheeling, filling and inserting. Now we just put in a disk as we walk past. It’s a lot better,” Says Ton.
Not only is filling the pots considerably easier for Groot and his team, but the crops develop well from the start and always look green and healthy.
“You can clearly see it’s got an even spread of roots, and the substrate is coarser with a more consistent quality compared to what we’ve used before. It also drains easily, and doesn’t become too wet too quickly.”
And this isn’t the only success story. Two years ago, Hans Baker was the first Dutch grower to start using the disks after he made the discovery at a trade show and he’s never looked back.
“I’ve had the strawberries in the same coir for two seasons now, and we’re going to buy new disks again next year because they’ve been so successful,” adds Hans. He says the roots look good, white and healthy and also mentions that the coir remains firm and airy. “Even though I’m quite generous with the water, the coir maintains its integrity and doesn’t become mushy. Any superfluous water is drained very quickly.”
A further benefit of the substrate disks is that the hole in the top also allows drip irrigation to fit in neatly and stay in place when watering starts.
Both Hans Bakker and Ton Groot manage their own berry sales and always strive to deliver the highest quality fruit. “We can never compromise on quality, as we would simply lose customers. The new substrate certainly delivers, we’ve had an excellent season,” adds Groot.
“Before we started using the Botanicoir disks planting was a laborious chore, now we’re looking forward to planting and the disks for next year have already been ordered.”
Kalum Balasuriya from Botanicoir says that the success in the Netherlands with coir substrate disks is hugely encouraging for UK growers. “We’re pleased with the success the Botanicoir disks are having in the Netherlands. In the UK we can supply disks with customised dimensions and volumes and we have a range of mixes, both washed only and washed and buffered, on offer to suit different soft fruit crop requirements and grower preferences,” says Kalum.