As 2021 comes to a close, market dynamics present several challenges for cultivators’ businesses across North America. Supply chains are experiencing extreme disruptions. Labor is in short supply, and state by state regulations contribute to a complex business landscape. With so much uncertainty, it makes sense to optimize the aspects of production that can be controlled—including growing media.
A new option in the growing media space is helping growers realize more control when it comes to achieving consistent yields harvest after harvest. Below, we consider three market dynamics driving decisions for the coming year and how the right media can help cultivators optimize production.
Logistics of supply and demand
As supply chain issues for imported goods continue to plague businesses of all types, Moody’s Analytics warns the issue will continue to get worse before it gets better. In the past, access to a network of global suppliers represented expanded options, but the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the fragility of today’s supply chains in virtually every region and market sector. In Germany, a European Union manufacturing powerhouse, 75 percent of businesses reported issues getting the raw materials and parts they needed. Shortages of materials, labor, and even shipping containers also are leading to price increases for imports. Forbes reported the cost to ship a container from China to the American West Coast has gone up thirteen times from pre-pandemic prices.
For cultivators, the uncertainty in both cost and supply is one reason to evaluate growing media suppliers closer to home. For example, VidaWool™ growing media, recently introduced by Owens Corning®, is entirely manufactured and supported in North America, helping growers avoid overseas production and shipping headaches.
As precision approaches to production are benefitting many aspects of horticulture, a more tailored and targeted growing strategy can also benefit cultivators’ businesses. Material science is informing enhancements that bring greater control through the precise distribution of water and nutrients. VidaWool™ mineral wool growing media draws on more than a half-century of material innovation. An interesting aspect of mineral wool is that it can be engineered to take on specific performance properties — including the optimal distribution of water and nutrients throughout the plant.
The delicate nuances of the production process demand precise control over water, light, nutrients, and handling of the plant itself. A growing medium that supports precision and steerability can also support cultivators’ bottom lines. Equipped with Hydro-Xtend™ water dispersion technology, VidaWool™ is designed to optimize dispersal of water and nutrients, helping to ensure cultivators’ investments in moisture and feeding actually make it into the plants.
Made in North America from a minimum of 70 percent recycled content, VidaWool™ also brings a precision approach to manufacturing growing media. Designed with smart features like UV-resistant wrapping and pre-cut areas for plant placement, VidaWool™ brings a holistic approach to the mechanics of cultivation, from precise placement to packaging.
From a validation perspective, third-party testing gives growers confidence in the precise performance parameters of their selected media.
Looking for repeatability
A high-volume cultivation operation requires ease, precision, and repeatability to achieve high-quality, consistent yields. The efficiency of production processes is essential. Growing media that require a lot of hands-on mixing, measuring, and placement will require additional time and labor and be subject to variability and mistakes. As the labor market tightens and market demand surges, cultivators are finding value in growing media that reduce guesswork. helping support efficient and successful cultivation.
A modular system composed of components designed to work together, like VidaWool™, simplifies graduation of plants from seed to harvest. This system approach allows greenhouse staff to move efficiently between plugs, blocks, and slabs. Repeatability can support a cascade of benefits ranging from fewer hours of training to higher productivity to a more efficient process for expanding operations.
Given extreme marketplace dynamics and forecasts that legalization efforts will accelerate, savvy cultivators look at every aspect of their operations to tighten costs, boost production, and set themselves up for growth. As 2022 gets underway, growing media is a production aspect that should be considered in context with new options in the marketplace. For growers seeking improved consistency in material supply, precision cultivation, and process repeatability, VidaWool™ checks the boxes that can support more precise and profitable yields in a complex marketplace.
For more information, visit the VidaWool™ website.