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Grower soon to make own biodegradable biobased substrate plug with machine on site

Somewhat away from the spotlight, the Raalte-based Maan Biobased Products never stopped introducing innovative solutions into the industry. It all started with the Growcoon, and now there's also Nygaia. Both of these are being developed together with Klasmann-Deilman. The true catch of that new product is that it comes together with an automated machine line. The Nygaia Plugline will be showcased at the GreenTech Amsterdam.

Rob van der Meer

"It's impressive what we built here in such a short time," Rob van de Meer from Maan Biobased Products says. "It all started with the idea of gluing potting soil. That turned out not to be that good an idea, but from this, Growcoon was born."

"We learn from every test"
The focus now is on Nygaia, and it's going to be for a while too. Unlike Growcoon, this product results from the collaboration with Klasmann-Deilmann. Their idea was to come up with an alternative substrate with the plug structure of potting soil. "While it is not a natural product, it does not affect pH or EC and is completely inert," emphasizes Rob.

Nygaia's sauce recipe is very much a secret. At the same time, it is clear that the fiber structure is made out of polymers which make the plug absorb and release water in a proper fashion. "The plug can absorb up to nine times its volume of water," he says.

Currently, it is still a matter of fine-tuning before the plug hits the market. Some of that is done at The Green East, a test site near the Maan production sites. "We want some flow in the plug and this material makes it possible."

The focus with Nygaia is first on cultivation on water in greenhouse and vertical or indoor farm, but interest has also arisen in other crops. Rob: "We are testing with various crops."

The Nygaia concept was nominated for a Concept Award this GreenTech. The concept also includes a machine. That machine will soon have to produce substrate on site for growers. "That means that where you used to need 40 containers to ship substrate, you will soon only have to send 1 container of raw materials to the customer," Patrick Alferink explains. "Largely renewable raw materials of non-fossil origin."

Together with Martine Huisman, it is his job to, among other things, also convey the sustainable sides of the nevertheless also technical developments well, also soon at the fair. The fact that part of the machine line will soon be on display at the fair is certainly going to help attract the attention of fair visitors. "We will have a chance to take a look at the entire line at the end of May in Raalte. Taking photos is not yet possible. The machine is not yet fully assembled at that time. But during GreenTech you will experience something," Rob assures us.

What we see is a machine where the biodegradable and partly bio-based polymer mixture is made into rolls. From these rolls, another machine then makes the plugs. These plugs, which must be stable during cultivation, are also industrially compostable. By turning the right knobs on the machine, the grower will soon be able to make Nygaia slightly lighter or denser at his own location.

Besides with the plug, testing is also being done with a Nygaia mat. "We are getting great results with that, so we are totally excited about that too," he says. He shows lettuce grown on a float on water on the Nygaia mat. "The trials with this mat are going to help sell the plugs as well." After the fair, Maan Biobased Products, together with partner Klasmann-Deilmann, wants to start turning commercial volumes with Nygaia, just as it did for Growcoon. And then no longer in Raalte, but simply on site. "That was the condition when developing this sustainable concept from the outset," he says.

Cultivation with Nygaia mat

For more information:
MaanBiobased Products
Klipperweg 16
8102 HR Raalte
Tel: 0572 35 27 71
[email protected]

Klasmann-Deilmann Benelux
[email protected]

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