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Best soilless substrate performance for leafy greens in hydroponic systems

February 15, 2023

Growers of lettuce and other leafy greens are often asking us how picking the right soilless growing media can help them optimize the performance of their crops. In this short article, we’ll focus on a short list of properties that help leafy greens growers achieve operational excellence and consistent plant quality in their greenhouse. Let’s find out what makes the best soilless substrate for leafy greens in hydroponic systems!

This is the second article in our four-part series about hydroponic cultivation. Click to navigate to our previous article “Physical performance of growing media”.

Water uptake

The water uptake in the substrate for leafy greens in hydroponic systems should be optimized to enhance germination. It’s also crucial to optimize this property to maintain performance throughout the growing phases of the crop.

Substrate structure

To reduce shrinkage or pore decay during cultivation, it’s important to use a type of growing media with the right structure. By doing so you’ll be able to keep the air-filled porosity high, even during wet growing phases.

Another key property that has to do with the structure, or more specifically the particle size in the substrate is the dust content. For optimally performing leafy greens in hydroponic systems it’s important to use dust-reduced growing media. When you use substrates with a higher level of dust particles present, the organic matter will settle in the water treatment system. It will also affect the UV light treatment systems.

Long-term stability

As hydroponic systems are typically highly automated, and often touchless systems, consistent performance of the substrate is crucial. By picking the right soilless substrate for leafy greens, a grower can be sure of consistency throughout the growing phases. This leads to evenly grown crops of consistent quality.

Human pathogen tests

As leafy greens production is meant for human consumption, cultivation needs to meet certain health standards. Leafy green growers need a type of substrate that is subjected to human pathogen tests, to make sure no harmful strains are present in the growing media. For the products of BVB Substrates, we can make sure these tests are done for every single batch that is delivered to a leafy greens grower.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to our experts if you would like to know more about the ideal soilless substrate for your leafy greens production site. Keep an eye on our website and LinkedIn page to make sure you don’t miss the next articles in this series: which focused on microbial activity and the chemical composition of growing media for leafy greens.

Please have a look at this previous article to learn more about overall substrate performance and tailoring.