H2Gro reduces labour, water and feed costs

  • Whastsapp

Arden Lea Nurseries at Hesketh Bank − between Liverpool and Preston in the North West of England − grows predominantly peat-free in coir supplying quality plants to the multiple garden retailer B&Q, as well as premium supermarket chain Booths. Having trialled H2Gro two years ago to improve water management issues, head growers David Golding (pictured right) and Barry Townsley (pictured left) now rely on the unique wetting agent to simplify crop management while helping to reduce labour, water and feed costs.

With 16 acres of glasshouses on five sites, Arden Lea grow over a million Dahlias in pots plus other consumer favourites including Pansies, Violas, Fuchsias and Geraniums. Baskets are another key line with over 800,000 produced in 2017.

While switching from peat-based growing media meant initially having to make adjustments in crop management, David and Barry now prefer growing in coir. “Rooting is better as the air filled porosity of the substrate is higher,” says Barry. “Roots develop more quickly so the plants establish more quickly, while the top of the coir stays drier so we get less Sciarid and disease issues.”

Initially responding to B&Q specifications, Arden Lea switched largely over to pure coir three years ago. Delivered to the nursery in blocks, the coir is milled and rehydrated on-site.

“Working with our ICL Specialty Fertilizers advisor we follow a procedure where H2Gro is incorporated at the milling stage – when water is added and the coir blocks are broken down to fill the pots,” explains David. “Significantly improving the wetting up process, it results in a better volume of coir – ie. it goes further filling more pots. We’re seeing additional benefits when the young plants are watered in.

“Before using H2Gro it could prove challenging to keep the coir sufficiently wet, whereas now we can water less frequently. We water everything by hand and, being heavily reliant on soluble feeds, tend to feed most of the time. H2Gro has significantly reduced our watering man-hours and resulted in less water and, more importantly, less feed being used.

“Easy to use – a single application of H2Gro lasts the lifetime of the pot. It also means we are watering less often when plants are flowering, results in less spotting and fewer man hours on the dispatch line removing damaged blooms.”

As to customers, Barry points out H2Gro will benefit retailers and consumers by helping extend shelf-life in-store and prior to potting out. “Applying at a high rate pre-dispatch is likely to be a great advantage to customers.”

Summing up David says; “H2Gro has not only simplified the management of our crops, it means we are using less water and feed, with all the benefits that incurs while getting the same, if not better, quality of plants.”