Using research to advance understanding of a novel soil amendment from a Canadian small business

IZC wanted to understand zeolite-based NEREA® substrate with respect to labour, economics and plant growth

A course-based project with Niagara College compared the growth of basil in a standard production peat moss mix (BM6), versus peat moss blended with 10% and 20% of NEREA® as an amendment

This research is an important early testing of a novel soil amendment in Canada for a small business

International Zeolite Corporation (IZC) is an international marketer and supplier of natural zeolite and zeolite-infused products. IZC has just recently formed an economic association and foundation with the University of Havana, Cuba. Through this collaboration, IZC has acquired permission to test a zeolite-based substrate, embedded with nutrients, developed at the University of Havana called NEREA®, with the goal of assessing potential market adoption by and corresponding benefit to the greenhouse sector of agriculture in Canada and the US.

The NEREA® technology is based on charging zeolite, which can be periodically recharged with nutrients to promote and sustain plant growth for an entire growing season. It differs from conventional greenhouse hydroponic systems in that the plants access the nutrients as they are required and receive only water, rather than constantly supplying nutrients to the plants in solution.

Conventional media for growing crops in a greenhouse are commonly peat-based and require nutrients to be applied at each watering. This method of growing short-term crops such as potted herbs is labour-intensive and can therefore increase cost of production. IZC is proposing that the zeolite-based NEREA® substrate has the potential to reduce labour, be more economically feasible while enhancing plant growth, due to a consistent nutrient supply, because of cation exchange capacity (CEC) -based pre-charge.

This project was made possible by funding from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, through the Niagara College-led Greenhouse Technology Network.

Visit Niagara College’s Horticultural & Environmental Sciences Innovation Centre (HESIC) website to learn more about its resources and capabilities.

(Project #NC119)