The main component of the substrate used in the cultivation of pot Anthurium is currently peat, because of its physical, chemical and biological properties. For years, however, the use of peat as a substrate has been a subject of debate. Peat exploitation is causing natural areas to disappear, resulting in climate change. Peat as a substrate is therefore not sustainable. Anthura has started investigating possible alternatives.
In mid-2020, we asked some substrate suppliers about the possibilities of making a more sustainable substrate. The initial feedback was positive, but in terms of composition they did not result in a substrate that would be suitable for the machinery at our Anthurium production site in Bleiswijk. There were too many fibers in the raw material, or the raw material would not have been permitted under Q37 requirements, i.e. the requirements for the export of plant material to America.
In early 2021, finer peat mosses became available and this allowed us to start trials with soil compositions that meet our high quality requirements. The physical composition of the current and potential soils were compared and subsequently the first trial batches were delivered. The peat moss ensures easy water absorption, while the open structure of the material allows for sufficient air to be retained. In combination with coconut and as low a proportion of perlite as possible, these three raw materials form the basis of the mixture.
The results in an extensive trial were positive. After using 10 m3 of soil from two suppliers in the summer with a good quality end product, in the autumn we started potting every two to three weeks in peat-free soil. This was done independently of variety and customer. In all results, we saw no adverse effects on growth. No changes were made to the watering of the plants in the peat-free soil compared to the standard composition used.
Because of our positive findings in line with the sustainability targets of our Anthurium production site in Bleiswijk, we aim to grow the entire production flow from the plug stage onwards in a peat-free substrate by March 2022. With the transition to a more sustainable mixture, we are one step ahead of market demand and, with a CO2 footprint that is more than 30% lower, we are prepared for the future. This allows us to continue to deliver our usual high plant quality standards.