The many benefits of Rockwool as a Growing Substrate for Hydroponic Systems
In my last post, I gave a brief overview of how rockwool is made; This post will focus on the benefits of using rockwool as a substrate in hydroponic systems.
The main benefits of rockwool as a substrate can be grouped into four key features:
1. Inert – Rockwool substrates are chemically inert, which means they will not bind any nutrients or chemicals, as can be seen in non-inert substrates. The benefit of being an inert substrate is that all of the nutrient solution used to irrigate the crop is available for the crop for uptake, which allows the grower to be in complete control.
2. Irrigation efficiency – Irrigation efficiency is a measure to show how effectively the irrigation water is used within the substrate. Rockwool substrates are developed to have excellent irrigation efficiency. As a result, fewer waterings are needed to refresh the substrate thereby optimizing water and fertilizer inputs.
3. Uniformity – The uniformity of the substrate is critical to the different processes throughout the crop cycle. In the propagation stage, rockwool will provide uniform germination of seedlings and initial root development of the crop. As the growing cycle continues, the substrate will efficiently distribute irrigation water. A uniform root zone environment provides each plant with the same generative or vegetative stimulus in accordance with climate management strategies. The result is a uniform, perfectly balanced crop that will result in higher yields, better quality, and less energy usage.
4. Control – Growers can steer plant development based on controls of the water content (WC) and electrical conductivity (EC) within the substrate. By steering the WC & EC in the substrate, we can influence the crop balance between vegetative or generative. The major benefit of this is that the crop can be balanced with action applied to the root zone.
- Rockwool is a clean product, with no pollutants or harmful bacteria.
- It does not lock up or release any substances, ensuring all water and nutrients are available to the plant.
- It is easy to control and steer the growth of the crop to achieve higher yields than seen in soil-bound cultivation.
- Reuse of drain water & nutrients means less natural resources needed
The inert characteristics of rockwool allow growers to improve fruit and produce quality while reaching maximum yields. In addition to supporting high yields, the ability to use less input materials also keeps production costs minimal which further improves the return on investment.