Perfect Vegetables with Stonewool Grow Media
Recently, the AG and hydroponic industries have seen a lot of traction in regards to the growing media stone wool. This is a man made mineral fiber created through the melting and spinning of basalt rock that is then pressed into various shapes and sizes. This material or substrate was first used in the construction industry as an insulation. After a spark of innovation and testing, it was found that stone wool made the perfect growing substrate for plants. Today this material is widely used in commercial greenhouses and indoor farms large and small.
Not All Made the Same
Not all stone wool is made the same, meaning that the substrate depending on the manufacture and ingredients will have differing properties. The best stone wool is made from a diabase or pure basaltic rock. These pure stone wool blocks have the perfect inert state and are nonreactive- perfect for the production of crops. High quality stone wool has a uniform fiber diameter and most importantly has uniform wetting properties. High quality stone wool is able to absorb water, but also leave the roots with air to breath and not be bogged down with water. In order to determine the quality of stone wool and the overall usability for the crop being grown is through testing before use.
Using Stone Wool in the Hydroponic System
Substrates in the place of soil have been incorporated into use for many commercial and industrial crop applications. Hydroponic system grown crops truly benefit from the use of different growing substrates such as coco coir, clay, or stone wool. In the production of vegetables, stone wool substrate has been used successfully for more commonly grown crops such as herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, lettuce, cut flowers, and more. The primary reason for the use of stone wool in a hydroponic system is to provide a nutrient buffer reservoir for the root zone while still maintaining air with the roots promoting strong and healthy growth of the roots and plants. In a standard NFT system, the plants are dependent on the flooding and flow of plant nutrients to be fed. If this stops, the plants will die. In a substrate hydroponic system, the stone wool encases the roots comfortably and allows for the brief storage of plant nutrient solution and air for the plants to use without suffocating roots and starving plants in between cycles. In these systems, to help maintain the proper levels of both nutrient water solution and air, the systems are pulsed in terms of watering and plant nutrient delivery cycles.
Benefits of Stone Wool for Vegetable Production
There are many benefits that have proven stonewool as a growing media that can be successfully used in an indoor farm or commercial greenhouse. Due to the material being made from molten rock and spun into plastic wrappings, this material is sterile and free of harmful pathogens such as pests, disease, and seeds from unwanted plants. Well-known brands that have been built on standards and are trusted by industry professionals such as RedRock Block, have grow blocks that resist decomposition and can be reused for many growing seasons unlike many other substrates used in the industry that last only one growing season, such as coco coir.
This material is light-weight and easier to handle and shift into place until it is irrigated and filled with water- then it provides a perfectly stable environment for the plant to grow. This material can be customized to a specific shape and size for the crops being grown. This gives the grower the ability to fully customize based on growing area and plant needs. The stone wool plugs and stone wool cubes are also able to be installed directly into larger blocks reducing transplanting stress of the plants being grown. The material is also manufactured to give the best possible moisture and aeration levels in the root zone, meaning healthy and happy root growth. The material also comes ready to use off the delivery truck. This cuts time and labor needs. There are many benefits of this material and based on the needs and goals of the operation, this type of hydroponic grow media may be the perfect match!
Advantages of Stonewool
- -Multiple growing seasons and crops
- -Will not breakdown in growing season
- -Sterile materials free from pathogens
- -Naturally made product
- -Excellent aeration and moisture retention
- -Easy transplanting
- -Lightweight and easy to move
Top Vegetable Crops in Hydroponic Systems with Stone Wool
Stonewool is a common material used in NFT systems and hydroponic systems. Crops that are commonly grown in these systems are able to be successfully grown in stonewool. These crops are typically ones with shallow to medium root depth. One of the positives of using stonewool is the ability to easily transplant crops into larger pots and containers. The following list is not all inclusive of all crops that are able to be grown in stonewool, but includes the top crops grown in the commercial and industrial indoor farming industry.
|Top Crops Grown in Stonewool|
Thinking about growing vegetables in stonewool grow media?
By researching the specific needs of a crop not listed above will allow a grower to determine if stonewool grow media is the right fit. There are many benefits that allow stonewool to be the best growing media solution for an operation. From durability, moisture control, nutrient and pH control, and customization, stone wool has fast become one of the most common types of commercial or industrial grow media.
In need of a “rock-solid” supply of wholesale stonewool grow media? Shop RedRock Block’s extensive line of premium and professional grade stonewool grow plugs and mini cubes, stonewool starter blocks, stonewool grow blocks, stonewool grow slabs and flowering slabs.