What are the risks of reusing substrate mats?

Substrate matsDuring crop rotation, most growers choose to practically empty the entire greenhouse, as well as remove the substrate mats. However, there are also growers who, for economic reasons, opt to reuse the substrate mats. Note that this does involve various risks. Are you considering reusing your substrate mats? If so, please take the following into account. 

Presence of pathogens

Substrate mats may be a source of all kinds of pathogens. They may not have caused any damage in the last crop, but that is no guarantee that the new crop will remain unaffected. Young plants are much more vulnerable than mature plants. The risk of contaminating the new crop is, therefore, quite substantial so you probably have to use a lot of crop protection products and/or natural enemies during the new crop cycle. 

Impaired water capacity

When growing crops, the structure of the substrate mats changes significantly. This affects the water capacity, making it more difficult to administer the correct amount of water to the new crop. Water distribution too is less balanced, both within the individual mats and between them. In practice, this means that you will need more water. 

Slower rooting

Because of this change in structure, the rooting of the new plants will also be slower. Consequently, the crop comes into production later. Once the crop comes into production, vegetative growth is stronger, which means harvesting takes more time because of the strong longitudinal growth.

Higher costs

When you add up the above risks, you will realise that reusing substrate mats does, in fact, not lead to cost savings. During the new crop cycle, you will have to spend more money on the (preventive) use of crop protection products, more water will be used and labour costs will increase in most cases. 

Reusing substrate mats

If, despite the risks listed above, you want to reuse your substrate mats, you need to take a number of points into account. Furthermore, it is important to obtain proper advice. 

Martin Meuldijk
Questions about the risks of reusing substrate mats

If you have questions about the risks of reusing substrate mats, please contact Martin Meuldijk, our product specialist on Crop Rotations, or ask your question by completing the form below.


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