The French fruit and vegetable sector has been particularly dynamic lately to offer plastic-free packaging but it still has a long way to go. Indeed, before the products can be placed on the shelves of wholesalers and supermarkets, they very often first grow in plastic pots, which create tons of waste each day, additional footprint for the environment and are limited in terms of the efficiency of their use.
Francis Paon at Fruit Attraction 2022
In order to bring a sustainable solution for both environment and agronomy, Fertil has developed the Fertilpot, an entirely degradable product made from wood fibers. There is nothing new about this solution, according to Francis Paon. “Fertil was created in the 1960s. At the time, the company already offered products designed to facilitate the agronomic development of flowers and plants, especially in the horticultural sector. But in the 1970s-80s, the emergence of plastic pots made us lose the market. The company then continued to grow in plant production with two flagship products: the Fertiss substrate, specifically designed for fruit tree seedlings and cuttings, and the Fertilpot, which is our main activity.”
Fertilpot range- © Fertil.fr
Fertilpot: 100% natural and local
The Fertilpot is a natural solution that helps reduce waste production drastically, as well as its environmental footprint. But in order to be coherent in its eco-responsibility approach, Fertil wants to control the entire manufacturing process. “The Fertilpot is made entirely from wood fibers. Our raw material comes from forests of the Vosges region, where our production unit is located. We have contracts with the foresters who harvest the thinning wood, certified PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes) and therefore managed sustainably. This approach was very important to us, as it is perfectly in line with the philosophy of the company, which is to act for the good of nature. Besides, controlling our raw material allows us to offer to our clients a quality that is regular throughout the year, which is not always the case for all biodegradable solutions on the market.”
Better root development to reduce losses
The success of the Fertilpot is also due to the agronomic advantages it provides. “The problem with plastic pots is that root development cannot be optimal. The roots grow, branch a little, curl up at the bottom of the pot “in a bun” and then come out of the pot, which eventually weakens the plant and makes it more fragile. Transferring the plant from pot to field then becomes more delicate, with some inevitable losses. The Fertilpot, on the other hand, allows the plant to develop its root system much more naturally. When the root reaches the edge of the pot, it stops and starts branching. The root system is then stronger, the plant grows better and the quality of the fruit is greater.” By reducing the losses, the Fertilpot also presents a clear economic advantage.
Saving time and manpower
As we are all constantly chasing time and manpower is becoming scarce, the Fertilpot appears to be a solution as well. “A clear difference is that we can transfer the plant in the Fertilpot to the field. Through the degradation process, the Fertilpot will serve as a temporary source of nutrients for the plant. This is a great advantage since we avoid handling plastic pots, or having to collect and recycle them, a system that represents a complicated burden for producers. The Fertilpot seems to be a rather easy solution to this problem. Additionally, the root system being stronger, our clients gain in cultivation time, which would not be possible with plastic pots.” By gaining time and manpower, users of the Fertilpot also save money.
Less manipulation leads to higher success rate
Instead of having to remove the plant from the pot, it can be transferred directly to the soil, which avoids unnecessary handling that can damage the plant or destroy it. This is a particularly interesting advantage for some crops. “We propose the Fertilpot for fruit and vegetable crops. Some of our clients grow their vegetables in the Fertilpot and then transfer their grafted plants in the soil, which gives extraordinary results, especially for the cucurbits that are very fragile. It is very common for the plant to die when it is removed from its pot because the roots have been damaged. These manipulations also create a lot of stress for the plant. Fertilpot provides a solution to this problem by strengthening the root system and avoiding the removal from the pot before planting in the soil.”
Extended planting periods for greater flexibility
Another interesting advantage of the Fertilpot is the possibility to plant all year round. “Normally, the chances of success in terms of planting are said to be optimal in the autumn. But the plants grown in Fertilpot have a stronger root system. They are also more resistant to diseases and weather hazards. Producers can therefore extend the planting periods, which allows more flexibility in their organization and in the distribution of labor throughout the season.”
Finally, the Fertilpot appears to be an interesting solution in many respects as it helps increase the profitability and productivity of those who already use it. The Fertilpot can be used in many sectors, from fruit crops to vegetable crops, viticulture and horticulture, and even the cultivation of medical cannabis, sugar cane, exotic fruit, cacao and tea. “Another significant advantage for those wishing to improve their ecological footprint is that the Fertilpot reduces the amount of plastic waste. This definitely contributes to improving a company’s image. These are all excellent reasons to start using the Fertilpot!”