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Capillary matting | Using tips 

Capillary mats 1170x360
Written by Bonita van Ingen | Last update: 07-03-2023

Capillary mats distribute water from the soil so that plants are evenly watered. The advantage of watering from the bottom of the plant is better root development in the pot. Many companies that produce potted plants use these capillary mats or self-watering trays for irrigation. For the best result, it is important to place the capillary mats in the right position and are used correctly. In this article you will read some important tips from our product specialist about capillary mats.

In the following article; 

Important characteristics of capillary mats

Water capacity

Water capacity is the amount of water the capillary matting can retain per square meter in litres. The greater the mats' water capacity, the more water it can buffer. The water capacity plays a large part in choosing the capillary mat; after all, you are choosing the amount of water under your plants. But you are also choosing the buffering function that can offer results during a disruption in the watering system, for example, with a defective pump.

There is a relation between water capacity and capillary effect. The more water the capillary mat retains, the slower the capillary effect is (as there are larger amounts of water to be processed). Therefore mats with a low water capacity will distribute water faster than the same kind of mat with a higher water capacity.

Lately a trend towards lower water capacity combined with higher frequency of watering has emerged. By doing this the relative air humidity can be decreased, which, in turn, decreases the chances of disease and algae growth.

Capillary matting effect

Also important to look at is capillary matting effect. Capillary action is the degree to which the irrigation mat evenly sucks up, holds and distributes water over the entire surface of the mat and the turnover rate that stands for this. The greater the capillary effect, the better and faster the water can be distributed through the mat.

Way of watering The irrigation system is a very important factor in choosing the right irrigation mat. For example, in a crop where watering may only be done from below, good capillary action is very important, while in crops where watering is done from above (e.g., a watering trolley) this plays a much lesser role.

In the video below, they give tips on using capillary mats.

Types of capillary mats

We offer three different types of irrigation mats in our assortment. The BWM, Klaver capillary mat and Klaver capillary mat HC irrigation mats. The mats are categorized by water capacity, color, material and capillary effect. Check out the table below to see which irrigation mat best suits your crop.

 BWM capillary matKlaver capillary mat Klaver capillary mat HC 
Water capacity 3,0 - 6.0 ltr/m2 1,0 - 3,5 ltr/m2  0,5 - 1,20 ltr/m2
Capillary effect Low High Excellent
Color Fur Black White
Material Recycled synthetic
 New synthetic
 New synthetic
Options - Anti-algae film
 - Ground cover
 - Anti-algae film 
 - Ground cover
Widths up to 480 cm

Assortment capillary mats

Use of capillary mats

Positioning capillary matting
It is important to position capillary matting next to each other in multiple lanes. Keep in mind to overlap the lanes with 5 to 10 centimeters to make sure there are no openings. Because the capillary matting are delivered on rolls, it is important to position them carefully. In this way, the plant will get sufficient amount of water and nutrition and you will effectively use the capillary mats.

Finally, the type of substrate is an important factor for choosing certain capillary mats. This does not merely concern the substrate (e.g. metal, sand or concrete), but also, for example the grade of the substrate (slope).

Ground cover and algae film
During production you can also choose to rest your capillary mats on ground cover and/or agae film. This prevents roots from growing into the mat. You will also prevent the capillary mat from becoming contaminated by the growth of weeds, roots and algae, which will benefit the mat’s lifespan. Finally, you will prevent unnecessary vaporization and you will protect the capillary matting from mechanical influences, such as fork lifts and (cleaning) sweeping machine.

Wetting the capillary mat in the beginning

Before using the matting, ensure that they are completely wet with water with a low surface tension. A low surface tension ensures the the water is absorbed well. You can test whether the surface tension is low enough pouring a cup of rain water over the mat. If the water is not absorbed quickly, the surface tension is too high. You can reduce the surface tension by adding a  wetting agent or soap based product to the water. 

After the mats have been wetted, they can be put into use. Note: new capillary mattting need some time to fully stabilize. So, please be aware that the results of new mats are not entirely constant and optimal in the beginning. 

Keep the capillary matting wet

Subsequently, you can use the capillary matting. Make sure that the capillary matting never dry out entirely. Chemical and other substances can extract from the capillary mat when it is dried out. This will impact the lifespan of the capillary mat. Make sure, that the irrigation mats are always moistoned in time.

  • Note: when the capillary matting will be used for multiple crops, we advise you to keep the mats wet enough during crop rotation. This will make it easier to start with a new crop, because the water distribution will be more stable.

Keep long lifespan of mats

How long does capillary matting last? That is a frequently asked question from our customers. Usage time is an important factor when choosing a mat. If you want to use the capillary mats for multiple crops, quality is of greater importance then when you are using the capillary mat for one-time cultivation only. Please reach our specialist out to find out what best lifespan is for your crop.

Cleaning during crop rotation 

If you use the capillary matting for multiple crops, make sure that you clean the watering mats during the crop rotation. This way you prevent damaging organisms from the old crop to be taken in by the new crop through the capillary matting.

There are two ways to clean your capillary matting:
  • Wash & disinfect: wash the capillary mat with clean and pure water (note: never use a high pressure hose, this will damage the mats) and disinfect them with a cleaning product like Menno ter Forte.
  • Steaming: you can also choose to steam the mats.Storing capillary matting
    When you have bought capillary matting and you don’t intend to use them instantly make sure to store them in a dry, cool and dark place.When you have bought capillary matting and you don’t intend to use them instantly make sure to store them in a dry, cool and dark place. 

Questions regarding the use of capillary matting

If you have any questions about the use of capillary matting or you want us to advise you please contact our product specialist Bonita van Ingen or use the form you find underneath. If you use this form to ask your question we will contact you as soon as possible. We'll respond within 24 hours on working days. 

About Bonita van Ingen

Bonita van Ingen joined Royal Brinkman in 2017 as internal product specialist Packaging & Design. She acts as a link between the sales department and suppliers. "Horticulture is a beautiful industry to me. Working with different products, contact with suppliers, the interaction with colleagues and the variety of work: every day is different. If the customer is happy with the products he has purchased, so am I."

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