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“We wanted the substrate to be a functional part of the propagation and production process"

Propagation media supplier Oasis Grower Solutions states that " there's no single, one-size-fits-all substrate solution for precision hydroponics in controlled growing environments. Or at least there shouldn't be. Controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) growers navigating climate change and indoor farming's rapid evolution need substrates aligned with their challenges and competitive needs."

Oasis AeroSelec PlugSheet engineered foam substrate, the newest addition to the Oasis AeroFamily substrates line, was developed specifically in response to grower requests for an Oasis AeroFamily option with higher water-holding capacity for warmer seasonal or year-round climates, as well as crops, conditions or growing systems with higher water demands.

The new Oassis AeroSelect PlugSheet builds on the Oasis AeroMaxPlugSheet. With the new Oasis AeroSelect PlugSheet, the company's Research, Innovation & Development team aimed to create a finer cell structure with higher air porosity and increased water-holding capacity and capillary action. "The result is a seed-to-harvest precision hydroponic substrate for higher water demand that delivers superior results, even with challenging crops like spinach," the team says.

Dr. Vijay Rapaka, Oasis Grower Solutions Director of Global Grower Operations and Research, was the lead scientist on the team that developed the technology behind Oasis AeroFamily substrates. He notes that talk about crop steering and precision growing typically focus on finished plant production, such as buds, flowers, and fruits.

"We wanted the substrate to be a functional part of the propagation and production process, not just a physical matrix. We developed Oasis AeroMa to bring precision into the root zone, even for young plant production," Dr. Rapaka says. "Growers loved the benefits of Oasis AeroMax and asked for a substrate for crops and conditions that have higher water demand, so we responded."

Smithers-Oasis Chief Polymer Scientist Dr. Paul Kelly was involved in identifying suitable chemistries for the new substrate. "Just as the post-it note was developed from a failed adhesive experiment, I was struggling with a new foam technology for another application," Dr. Kelly shares. "After discussions with Dr. Rapaka about his needs for a new hydroponic foam product, we decided to try the new foam technology and found successful results."

Dr. Rapaka adds, "We were extremely happy with the outcome because we were able to deliver what growers are looking for, thanks to the new Oasis AeroFamily substrates platform technology. Our outstanding results with spinach and Oasis AeroSelect were a surprise — a bonus we discovered during our crop trials."

Oasis AeroSelect PlugSheet
The Oasis team highlights that the Oasis AeroSelect PlugSheet is suitable for hydroponic propagation and production of all leafy greens, including spinach and microgreens, in warmer climates or conditions with higher water demand. Sheets are available pre-dibbled for single- or multi-seed propagation, as well as un-dibbled plain sheets for microgreen production. They add that with Oasis AeroSelect PlugSheet engineered foam substrate, growers can go from propagation through nutrient film technique, deep water culture, or dry-hydroponics production.

The team also elaborates on how growers could benefit from this product: "Finer cell structure balances air porosity with increased water-holding capacity and superior capillary action for finer roots and more branching. Moreover, clean, food-safe substrate arrives uncontaminated and free of pests and pathogens, including plant and food-borne pathogens. And ultra-low density encourages uniform germination, rapid root penetration, and unrestricted seedling growth for exceptional young plants."

" Reliable, consistent, structurally stable media delivers uncompromised air-to-water ratio throughout propagation and production. In addition, a spongy, semi-rigid substrate minimizes dust generation and improves production handling, especially when wet. On top of that, an inert substrate maximizes grower flexibility for precision nutrient dosing programs. Further, a unique open matrix eliminates the risk of overwatering when used properly," they continue.

Oasis AeroSelec PlugSheet engineered foam hydroponic substrate is available from national and international distributors in 50ct, 104ct, 162ct, and 276ct single- and multi-seed sheets, pre-dibbled with Oasis Grower Solutions' center-to-center spacing. "With Oasis ® AeroFamily Substrates, we've made a big leap in the right direction," Dr. Rapaka says. "There is more to be done and more to come in terms of functionality, performance, and sustainability."

More Oasis AeroFamily Substrates will launch later this season with new options for large-scale, automated operations.

For more information:
Oasis Grower Solutions

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