Timely, new improved UK woodfibre – Fibagro Advance

27 May 2021
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Manufactured in the UK from homegrown FSC sourced wood, Fibagro Advance is a new, improved, highly consistent woodfibre substrate - available exclusively from ICL for the professional horticultural market. (fibagro-advance.com) 

“Fibagro Advance is a timely development,” says Brendan Howell - ICL Sales Development Manager for Professional Horticulture across Ireland.  “With the industry striving to significantly reduce reliance on peat, Fibagro Advance has a good environmental profile and offers security of supply. With a lower carbon footprint compared to imported woodfibre, it has been rigorously trialled and shown to significantly improve consistency and performance of peat-reduced and peat-free growing media.”  

Woodfibre is a sustainable inert peat diluent, however, there can be associated issues relating to slumping, water retention, nitrogen drawdown and buffering.   

“Manufactured using ICL’s unique thermo-mechanical process and with the addition of our technically advanced fertilizers and wetting agents, Fibagro Advance significantly reduces the impact of these issues helping to maximise plant quality,” explains Brendan.  

Promoting high product consistency, ICL’s thermo-mechanical process produces ‘split end’ fibres which create a unique matrix when blended with raw materials such as peat, coir and bark.  With low to medium bulk density, Fibagro Advance helps reduce slumping.  With a good balance between air-filled porosity (AFP) and water holding capacity (WHC), it facilitates good rooting, drainage and ease of irrigation management.       

“Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) is a rating of how well-growing media can hold plants nutrients,” explains Andrew Wilson, ICL technical manager for Ireland and the UK.  “Analysis by ADAS UK has shown the CEC of Fibagro Advance is significantly higher than average woodfibre used in growing media mixes. Fibagro Advance constitutes an excellent material which provides robust peat reduced and peat free mixed for optimum growth in professional horticulture.”  

In the future growers are going to be directly accountable for nutrient run off into water courses. Historically, calcium nitrate has been used in growing media to help supplement Nitrogen for plant growth, however, this can lead to poor rooting due to high EC levels as well as N leaching.   

“At ICL we have three innovative alternatives,” explains Andrew.  “For short term crops, we recommend Osmoform High N, a slow release fertilizer with a longevity of 8 to 10 weeks. For longer term crops, we have our fully coated controlled release products Osmocote N and Osmocote CalMag - which provides controlled release Nitrogen, Calcium and Magnesium over 3 to 4 months.  

Brendan concludes by saying; “by manufacturing our own woodfibre product we not only have complete control over its quality and consistency and hence performance, but also security over continuity of supply.  Investment in Fibagro manufacturing facilities, together with associated nutrient and water management products, demonstrates ICL’s continued commitment to helping professional growers significantly reduce their reliance on peat.”