Precision hydroponic susbsrates target crop, climate, and production demands

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These next-generation precision hydroponic substrates seek to target crop, climate, and production demands.

From the company’s beginnings 55 years ago, Oasis Grower Solutions’ engineered foam substrates are based on the idea of helping growers succeed.

“With Oasis ® AeroFamily Substrates, precision hydroponic growers can respond to real-world crop, climate, and production demands. Whatever the challenges of your hydroponic growing operation, there’s an Oasis AeroFamily Substrate to help — and more coming down the pipeline soon,” says the Oasis team.

Oasis Aerofamily substrates
Dr. Vijay Rapaka, Director of Global Grower Operations and Research, recalls the quest for a new core substrate technology in 2019. Then Corporate Grower Research Manager and lead scientist for their research team, he envisioned a new generation of substrates to help growers meet the future as CEA evolves.

While most crop steering and precision growing focused on finished plants, their goal was precision into the root zone, even for young plant production. “We wanted the substrate to be a functional part of the propagation and production process, not just a physical matrix,” Dr. Rapaka explains.

Much like the failed adhesive experiment that led to the Post-It Note, suitable chemistries for the new substrate came as Smithers-Oasis Chief Polymer Scientist Paul Kelly, Ph.D., struggled with a new foam technology for another application. “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. Kelly shares.

From that starting point, their Research, Innovation & Development (RI&D) team conducted research incorporating advanced chemistry. Advances in core technology led to an open-celled matrix with low density and strength. In turn, that opened the door to a new generation of engineered hydroponic substrates with air and water porosity optimized for climate, crop, growing system, and more.

Oasis Aerofamily substrates options
The following Oasis AeroFamily Substrates are now available:

  • Oasis AeroMax PlugSheet: The Oasis team says: “This is the first Oasis AeroFamily Substrates member, launched in 2021. It is ideal for crops and conditions with lower water demand, this precision substrate maximizes root zone air porosity for uniform germination, rapid root penetration, and unrestricted seedling growth. As an added benefit, the drier substrate surface circumvents algae formation.”
  • Oasis AeroSelec PlugSheet: “This is the second Oasis AeroFamily substrate to meet the public, it was launched at Indoor Ag-Con 2024. It is ideal for crops and conditions with higher water demand, this grower-driven substrate optimizes water-holding capacity and air porosity. Outstanding results with spinach, a notoriously challenging crop, are a bonus,” they continue.

The team elaborates: ” As a significant benefit to precision growers, these clean, inert engineered foam substrates come without a starter charge. Instead, you get maximum flexibility and precision control for nutrient dosing precisely aligned with your crop and your specific needs. These substrates also ship dry — reducing shipping costs, circumventing mold growth or other issues, and extending shelf life.”

“To undergird your food safety protocols, environmentally sound Oasis AeroFamily substrates are free of organic materials and pathogens, including plant and food-borne pathogens. Later this season, we’ll be launching more Oasis AeroFamily Substrates, with new options for large-scale, automated operations,” they add.

Dr. Rapaka states that Oasis AeroFamily Substrates are “a big leap in the right direction, but there’s more to be done and more to come in terms of functionality, performance, and sustainability. Around here, we’re excited about the grower-driven, real-world solutions coming next. We think you will be, too.”

For more information:
Oasis Grower Solutions

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