ASK THE EXPERTS: GROWING MEDIA
Questions with Frederic Gagnon, Lambert Peat Moss agronomist
Sustainable and stable: Grower-friendly EcoPeat offers high porosity, stability and more.
Frederic Gagnon, Lambert Peat Moss agronomist, tells us about EcoPeat, a natural fiber from the peat bog used to produce mixes with an exceptional ratio of air porosity and water holding capacity. Lambert offers EcoPeat Mixes (EPM) as well as a coarser grade of EcoPeat as a standalone product to be blended on site at growers’ facilities to upgrade their mixes or peat they already have on site.
1 | What is EcoPeat?
EcoPeat is specially processed from the wood of trees that have been buried in peat bogs for centuries and probably even millennia. It is thought to come from ancient conifers, mostly pines, which occupied the forests of northern Québec and still do today.
2 | What makes EcoPeat special?
It’s sustainable. It is naturally occurring in the bog. Also, it creates a really exceptional ratio of air space and water holding capacity. Having been buried under the surface for so long and exposed to freezing and thawing as well as aerobic and anaerobic conditions over the centuries results in an ingredient that is extremely stable. Any physical breakdown took place long ago. Unlike bark, EcoPeat retains its physical structure for many months in a container. It won’t shrink and remains intact.
3 | What are the advantages?
Consistency of the product. It’s always the same, all the time. It will remain in the same condition, so you will never have to re-adjust your irrigation or fertilization in a couple months.
The mix is also very forgiving of mistakes. When you have a new employee, or you have a heavy rain, you don’t have to worry. Its moisture holding capacity is excellent and it will allow excess water to drain very quickly. So the soil will stay moist and will never be really damp.
Compared to bark, EcoPeat can be compressed much more. Trucking regulations and freight costs make [bark] difficult to deliver. EcoPeat allows you to put almost twice the volume of the product on the same cart by compressing it.
You also can reduce crop time — you save money on labor, save money on fertilizer, save money on the crop. There are a variety of different mixes so you have some mixes suitable for most every crop you can imagine.
4 | What types of crops are a good choice for EcoPeat?
Trees, shrubs, most everything. It works really well with mums. Some mixes are more suitable for nursery crops in outside container production. It adds good weight and stability to keep your crop on the ground and not falling over every time you have wind or a storm.
Some EcoPeat mixes are more suitable for nursery stock and long-term crops because, unlike regular bark, EcoPeat will not shrink. The product will stay stable.
5 | What version is best for most nursery growers?
Most of them are working with EPM-40, the High Porosity Mix. It’s perlite-free and includes Canadian sphagnum peat moss and EcoPeat. It’s ideal for large containers, perennials and nursery crops.
We also have another grade of EcoPeat that is coarser than the other one. There are four other mixes in addition to EcoPeat. Plus, there are a lot of customizing options.
6 | How do custom options work?
A lot of people ask for a specific pH or special additives. They may want a regular mix with a little more perlite, or a little bit less. We have a really big catalog of products. We produce a custom project almost every day. We can respond to almost every request.
If you look on the website, we have eight different grades of peat. We have young bogs that offer very nice peat, very nice fiber, nice quality in the mixes.
7 | What’s the difference between peat from older bogs and younger bogs?
When you go deeper the peat becomes finer. The main thing you want in the mix is the air space. With the young bogs, the peat is fibrous, the peat is coarse.
We also have different bog locations — two in the south, two in the north, two in the far north. If weather conditions are not so good at one of these bogs, we can rely on one of the other ones. It’s the rainy season somewhere; it’s never everywhere at the same time. NM
For more information, visit our Peat & EcoPeat page:
This article is from Nursery Management, October 2018 issue.