Flowering Plants Ltd

- Model 2 & 5 - Capillary Mats

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 FLORIMAT 2 & 5 Capillary Mats for Professional use.  Easy to operate and maintain under Cover and Outdoors

Introduction.

As a professional grower, you want a system which delivers healthy plants of consistent quality while being easy to operate and to maintain.  You need to produce for substantially lower costs and with few or no plants out of grade.

 When properly installed and managed with reasonable care, Florimat systems do that. Florimat 2 is for use outdoors and for most crops under cover.  Florimat 5 is for use under cover by growers who use water to control the habit of their crops.

 Commercial and Professional Objectives.

 1.  Even water distribution – and redistribution.

Each Florimat has a specific capillary action so that it not only delivers water evenly, but also pulls water from plants which are not using it to those which are.  We aim for a variation in “water tension” of < + 2.5cm w.g. (1)  By comparison, Dutch work in the ‘80s measured what happens in peat when water is held at tensions as high as 31.6cm w.g., or 1.5 pF. (2)

●  Plants on any one area of Florimat should “all get the same breakfast” when they are watered,  “and all grow the same muscles' as they dry.

●  “Topping up” by hosepipe should be unnecessary.

 2.  Managing alkalinity in irrigation water.

Alkaline (hard) water forms lime scale which not only blocks irrigation systems and reduces capillary action; it also forms in growing media, where it coats fertilizers and roots.  The effect is “like pouring cement over your cornflakes.”  Since 1974, we have specialized in the supply and support of acid dosage systems, which aim to provide precise control of the alkalinity of a water supply.  Alkalinity control is not the same as pH control.

●  Your crops will make better use of the fertilizers which you buy.  They will grow more freely.

●  Precise management of “cation exchange capacity” in your growing media makes it possible to build up a reserve of fertilizer for your plants, so that they last better in retail outlets and transplant better for their customers.

 

3.  Managing water to control plant habit.

Customers generally report that where Florimats are installed and alkalinity is controlled appropriately, they can use a “wet to dry” cycle to control the height of plants such as Choysia, Hebe, Photinia and Poinsettia.

●  Those customers have eliminated the use of growth regulators.

 4.  Fertilizer distribution and savings.

4.1.  When plants all take up the same amount of water, and when that water contains liquid fertilizer, every plant in a batch receives the same amount of fertilizer.  Most of that fertilizer is taken up quickly, either by the plants or by adsorption on the growing medium. (See “cation exchange capacity” above.)  Therefore fertilizer generally remains with the individual plants.  However, the capillary action of Florimats pulls surplus water from those plants which do not need it to those which do.

4.2.  Florimats encourage very large and diverse populations of those microflora which help plants to take up fertilizers.

4.3.  Florimat systems greatly reduce leaching.  Reduced leaching, coupled with use of liquid fertilisers in place of “controlled release” or “enrobed” fertilisers, has led to cost savings of 60%.

●   Florimats can improve your control of crop quality while reducing your costs.

 5.  Water Recycling and Reduced Water Consumption

5.1  Plants must never be waterlogged, and rainfall must be harvested and recycled in such condition that it needs no further treatment before re-use.  When correctly installed, Florimat 2 pulls surplus water out of the growing medium, and works as an effective rainwater harvesting and cleaning system.

5.2  For seriously mucky waters, our “Manchester System” can make use of up to 15 steps to achieve clean, healthy water.  (FPL supply guidance, standard designs and specific components; please ask for details.)

●  Since 1998 growers who use the Florimat systems correctly have reduced water consumption by an average of 59%.

6.  Fungal and bacterial pathogens.

Early assays by HRI Efford showed that in Florimat systems those beneficial microflora which predate on most plant pathogens multiply in overwhelming numbers.  Practical experience and work by Governments overseas have confirmed this.  In 2010 work started in Holland, because in some cases Erwinia and Pseudomonas have disappeared from crops which were known to be infected.

●  Customers using the Florimat system rarely use fungicides.  This is good for your pocket and for your marketing.

 7.  Soil-borne pests.

We work with partners who have licences for the whole of the British Isles for the production, by patented means, of three species of beneficial nematodes.  A wide range of insect pests which spend part of their life cycle in growing media appear to be controlled.  FPL customers have reported that these natural allies have lived happily in Florimats for 2 years so far, and have survived a wide range of air temperatures.

●  These nematodes have reduced the cost of chemical pesticides.

 8.  Deterring mosses etc.

Nearly all our customers install Twinwall drip-line irrigation under their Florimats, and supply liquid fertilizers through the drip lines.  Every time the crop becomes dry enough, so does the Florimat.  Whenever that happens, fertilizer salts become concentrated in the remaining water. The resulting osmotic pressure prevents the growth of mosses, lichens, liverworts and weed seeds.  It also prevents almost all rooting through.  We have seen this control cease just once, after 138mm of rain in 18 hours.

●  Costs of chemicals and of manual labour for cleaning are greatly reduced. 

10.  Looking ahead.

Those customers who are getting the basic steps right have found that they can apply overseas research and development work about how specific fertilizers reinforce the paths through which many air- and water-borne pathogens might otherwise enter plants.  Growers overseas who are concerned about Botrytis, Black Spot, mildews and Phytophthora ramorum, and have found this useful.  Small systematic trials are being planned to test the active ingredients and their synergists.

For more information, please send an e-mail referring to the paragraph concerned.

(1)    w.g. – “water gauge,” an indication of how hard a plant has to pull water out of the soil.

(2)    pF   - the same tension, expressed not in centimeters but as a logarithm of centimeters.

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