Our company NATUREX, S.A. dedicated to lettuce cultivation through Hydroponics (NFT system), has been working for more than 15 years in the panamanian market and five years ago began the cultivation with rockwool, a substrate used as plants support from their germination to their harvest.
During 2016, we started testing with Jiffy products, seeking basically to improve four aspects:
1. A substrate friendlier to the environment, after the cultivation process.
2. A medium that would not allow contamination during the germination and transplant process.
3. A stable substrate that reduced seedling death in irrigation tubes (between 2%-3%).
4. Maintain or reduce the growth cycle comparable to rock wool (6 weeks to harvest).
The tests were carried out initially with Jiffy Carefree 23 mm. Some problems were observed in the growth period specially in leaf texture, so another test was started with the Jiffy-7 (36 mm), obtaining an extraordinary performance:
1. The Jiffy-7 surpassed the rock wool in root growth and foliar, advancing the production in a week approximately.
2. Decreased seedling deaths below 1% in irrigation tubes.
3. No contamination from germination to transplantation.
4. Germination, transplant and growth with total absorption of nutrients..
5. Improvements in the adaptation of varieties that could not be cultivated because of "tip burn" or growth delays.
With these results and after three months of trials the company made the decision to make the changes in the substrates that for our cycle means 8,000 seedlings a week. These changes have resulted in a huge benefit ranging from 98% to 100% of germination by flood trays and subsequent transplantation to irrigation canals.