Jun 15, 2023
Soilless growing campaign started by stone wool growing media provider

To feed and treat the world’s expanding population, Grodan, a stone wool growing media provider, is starting a branding initiative to focus public and policymaking attention on sustainable, soilless growing.

Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) is designed to grow food and medicinal crops more resource efficiently than conventional soil-based cultivation, making it possible to produce higher yields using less water, less land, less fertilizers and fewer if any chemical pesticides, according to a news release.

“Why this matters?,” Grodan officials said in the release. “Because the global population keeps getting bigger while natural resources shrink. Having reached eight billion by late 2022, the world will add another two billion people in the next 30 years, many of whom will live in urban environments. That means we will need to produce 50 percent more food than in 2012 to feed the world’s people.”

“Yet, soil is being lost to degradation between 10 and 100 times faster than it is forming, while climate-induced water stress threatens productivity of conventional soil-based agriculture in many parts of the world. Controlled Environment Agriculture is key to supplying urban and other populations with fresh, healthy food for the future.”

The use of stone wool substrate as a growth medium offers a clean, sterile and lightweight medium that allows growers to administer quantities of water and nutrients more efficiently. Hydrophilic fiber also makes the cultivation on stone wool substrate easy to control. Stone wool is recyclable, limits waste and keeps yields high and energy consumption low, according to the release.

Grodan advocates changing course on regulations. Another important issue is that current regulations focus almost exclusively on production methods.

“This is important but increasingly insufficient as demand for crop production grows while available resources shrink,” Grodan officials said in the release. “To rectify this imbalance, Rockwool and Grodan believe the regulatory focus needs to shift away from a focus on production methods toward greater emphasis on the broader impact of crop production – including the impact on other resources including land, water, and biodiversity as well as the circularity of the crop production.”

Part of the Netherlands based Rockwool Group, Grodan is a leading global supplier of stone wool growing media solutions for professional greenhouse growers.

“Being rooted in science, Grodan’s soilless growing media and digital services allow for predictable crop production year-round – anytime, anywhere – with yields up to 40 percent greater than soil-based options, while using less land, water, fertilizers, and pesticides than conventional agriculture,” Mirella Vitale, Rockwool’s chief marketing officer, said in the release. “That means we can feed and treat a growing population while simultaneously reducing the burden on the land and other resources. In the best of senses, ‘less is more’ when it comes to future-proofing crop production.”

Founded in 1969, Grodan operates in more than 70 countries.

“Together with our data-driven digital systems to continuously monitor crops’ health and growing needs, Grodan’s stone wool substrates allow professional growers to steer crop cultivation efficiently and sustainably, sometimes with 10 or more growing cycles in a year,” Hub Janssen, Grodan’s managing director, said in the release. “That also includes being able to recycle the stone wool substrates after fully exhausting its capacity. In a nutshell, this is the essence of Grodan’s new ‘Designed to grow’ brand initiative.”

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