The value, demand and dependency for soilless substrates has never been greater. NEVER. Last year brought unprecedented changes as well as many opportunities to the horticultural industry worldwide. These challenges and opportunities set the stage for what should be a very interesting 2021 for all sectors of the industry.
Recent projections for global substrate demand have shed light on the challenges the industry faces in the years and decades ahead. A recent study lead by Chris Blok from Wageningen University projects the demand for substrates in 2050 to reach about 280 million m3, a 420% increase in just the next 30 years. New crops being produced in substrates (including soft fruit, vegetables and leafy greens, transplants, and cannabis) are helping to drive the future demand in addition to the emerging Chinese horticulture market.
Coconut coir is the number one peat alternative on a global scale and the global demand increases every year. In the past 20 years, the production and processing of coir pith has increased from 1 to almost 10 million m3 in 2020. Despite the success, the demand is high and many suppliers already cannot supply enough product to meet the demand—and that was before COVID.
Growing soillessly is the future of many horticultural crops, especially in areas of the world where arable land, water, labor and climate extremes are of a critical nature. The substrate industry will now, like in the past, rise to the occasion and work hard to supply growers and consumers with high quality products to meet the current and future demand.