ICL (formerly Everris) has entered the professional peat free growing media market with the launch of Levington Advance Sustain - a range offering high consistency and performance.
“Levington has been the ‘go to’ supplier for growing media for over 50 years,” says ICL’s technical manager for growing media Dr Jim Smith. “Responding to demand, and developed and trialled over five years, our new peat free range keeps the Levington portfolio at the forefront of market developments.
The Levington Advance Sustain range features professional grade products specifically tailored to propagation, pot and bedding or nursery stock, including a coarse nursery stock mix.
“The range has been developed utilising our increased knowledge of peat alternatives and, as with all our Levington ranges, only employs professionally sourced materials produced ethically and to high standards to guarantee performance and consistency,” explains Dr Smith.
Fibagro, ICL’s new professional quality wood fibre product, is an important component. Following major investment, it is processed and treated at ICL’s state-of-the-art growing media facilities using the latest technology to optimise uniformity and stability.
Another key component is pine bark from sustainable sources. The smaller 0-8mm fraction promoting a more open structure, while the coarser 5-12mm fraction helps open up the growing media structure for larger pots and long-term crops.
The third ingredient is premium grade coir supplied by Cocogreen − setting the standards in coir quality and social accountability. Coir improves overall structure, water uptake and young root development.
ICL does not use green waste in any of its growing media mixes.
“Traditional peat-free mixes contained loam to improve the buffering capabilities,” explains Dr Smith. “The downsides are weight, potential contamination issues and a tendency to settle out. In contrast, Levington Advance Sustain is a light bulk weight density product mininising haulage costs, to and from the nursery, while improving overall handling.”
H2Gro wetting and water conservation agent is included as standard in this range. Peat free growing media tend to be very free draining and H2Gro helps optimise the available water holding capacity, reducing water requirement and irrigation frequency.
All Levington Advance Sustain products also contain ICL’s Start n Gro base fertilizer and Micromax Premium granules. While providing a full trace element package, Micromax Premium also helps address the increasing problem of magnesium deficiency.
“Due to changing grower practices we are seeing a marked increase in magnesium (mg) deficiency on some nurseries,” explains Andrew Wilson, ICL technical manager for fertilizers. “It can be a particular problem in peat free, or peat reduced, growing media mixes as less lime is needed to correct the pH. The problem seems to be further exacerbated when nurseries collect and use rainwater, which is mineral free.
“The routine addition of Micromax Premium to our Levington ranges safeguards growers from mg deficiency problems.”