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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1305: III International Symposium on Growing Media, Composting and Substrate Analysis

Growing media for food and quality of life in the period 2020-2050

Authors:   C. Blok, B. Eveleens, A. van Winkel
Keywords:   substrates, rockwool, statistics, vision, resource use efficiency
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2021.1305.46
Growing media in soilless cultivation allow growers to apply water and nutrients more accurate (+15% growth) and to avoid soil diseases (+5/50% growth). Growing media, in combination with recirculation of drainage solution, reduce water use by about 50% and nutrient use by about 60%. For that and other reasons it is expected global growing media use will increase. A more precise estimation of the increase in demand is made, based on the expected growth of the world population, the expected increase in living standards for most people and the influence of several trends. Trends for vegetables include the need to address obesities, chronic micronutrient deficiencies and product safety. Trends for ornamentals include appreciation of natural aesthetics and ameliorating indoor climate and city climate. General trends include dealing with water scarcity, urbanisation, and more. The consequences of the possible higher demand are discussed in view of the availability of common growing media constituents like peat, coir, wood fiber, bark, compost, perlite, stone wool and tuffs as well as for less common but potentially available growing media (constituents) like Sphagnum, water and biochar. The influence of irrigation, drainage and support systems on growing media preference are discussed, as affected by trends, including recirculation of drainage solution, the use of organic fertilisers and developments in remote growing. In conclusion, the global growing media market is highly dynamic with the potential to increase four-fold between 2017 and 2050 with the highest per continent use shifting to Asia. The population increase is expected to contribute about 40%, income increase about 80% and trends about 40% for vegetables and 270% for ornamentals, totalling a market increase of 260% for vegetables and 490% for ornamentals. Growing media can contribute to a more sustainable production of vegetables and ornamentals as well as to public health and quality of life.

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