What’s In The Bag?
A recent visit by FibreDust to the Sun Gro Horticulture blending facility, located just outside of Orlando, Florida, gave a glimpse into the business of soilless media and blending. The facility had a massive mixing and bagging line with 14 huge hoppers that added essential ingredients to soilless blends. Numerous tidy bunkers of various additives were scattered throughout the property and semis lined up to load blends bound for Florida and Georgia markets.
Donning a hard hat and orange vest, Eric Lundy, Sun Gro’s General Manager, guided FibreDust’s CEO, Sam Ahilan, and I into the vast media yard. Our first stop was the blending and bagging area of the facility. Conveyors ran for hundreds of feet with multiple hoppers that added the precise ingredient amounts into the media as it passed by. At the end of the line, bags were fed into a machine that released the correct volume of mix into each bag, and sealed it.
As we exited the blending and bagging line, I was impressed with a specific bunker designed to hydrate the FiberDust coconut coir—a component of several Sun Gro mixes. The very “low tech” bunker of about 50’ x 50’ was equipped with sprinklers used to hydrate and expand the coir. We watched as 10 one-ton pallets of 5 kg coir blocks were simply dumped into the bunker, one at a time, and the water was turned on. We learned that the coco coir sits under the sprinklers to expand for a day or two, while bucket loaders occasionally turn the coir to help it expand. The 5 kg coir blocks expand into an impressive 5000 cu ft of coir, which is then loaded into a massive blower that blows it into another storage bunker filled with a mountain of ready-to-use coir.
We walked by walls and walls of palleted container loads filled with various ingredients ready for the hopper line. It was apparent that perlite and vermiculite were common additives of the various bagged mixes. Neatly labeled bunkers of size-graded barks, peat moss, sand, and other essential ingredients were also ready to use. The tour was ending as we viewed 40 pallets (2 full container loads) of FibreDust Coco Coir, just ready to be expanded. We were told that all 40 pallets would be used up in just one month of production.
Sun Gro fulfills the demand for specific crop blends engineered to satisfy the needs of particular crops and growing styles. OMRI Listed® growing media is a popular newcomer to the soilless media market, demanding ingredients that meet the requirements of an organic blend. With over 20 production facilities located though out the US and Canada, Sun Gro provides many unique professional and retail media products to satisfy the growing needs of just about any grower or gardener!
The demand for soilless media is expected to exceed 7.9 billion in worldwide sales by 2021. As experts discover new ingredients to improve soilless blends, you can be sure that Sun Gro will be on top of it!