To examine the leachate over time from a selected range of NEREA® and peat moss media blends to assess nutrient holding and loss over time, and thus potential impact on plant growth and environment.
NEREA® has the potential to be blended with peat moss to create a novel growing media with the necessary physical and chemical characteristics for plant growth. However, it is not clearly known to what extent nutrients may be lost when watered multiple times.
The Horticultural & Environmental Sciences Innovation Centre team at Niagara College created multiple NEREA® and peat moss blend ratios to examine the nutrient content of leachate over time, and whether nutrient content within the leachate was affected by the presence of peat moss. Results showed that NEREA® does leach a significant amount of nutrients over six waterings. The presence of peat moss did not appear to affect the degree of nutrient loss, however there was correlation between the rate of NEREA® decreasing and the decrease in concentration of nutrients leached. This study did not include washing or rinsing the NEREA® prior to blending with peat moss, nor did it measure crop growth effects on the final leachate concentrations. Both avenues of nutrient loss mitigation are being evaluated in a follow-up study.
Funding: The project is being funded in part by the Niagara College-led Greenhouse Technology Network (GTN), through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).