Fertilpots are 100% organic and biodegradable pots composed primarily of wood fibers and are sustainably manufactured without the use of glues or binders. They are truly biodegradable and are intended to be planted directly in the ground or a larger container (there is no need to tear the bottom off the pot first). Unlike rice-hull pots, starch-based polymers and other 'biodegradable' plastics, fertilpots do not require a composting situation to biodegrade.
Because water, air and roots will penetrate the walls of the Fertilpot so easily, there is no need for drainage holes. The natural root structure that develops helps to ensure a successful transplant.
As well as being environment-friendly, Fertilpots provide growers a cost-effective solution along with the following advantages:
- smaller pots can be used - requiring less potting mix, less nursery space
- encourages stronger root systems for healthier, more vigorous seedlings
- fast, easy transplanting simplifies nursery operations and cuts labour costs
- reduces transplanting shock, meaning fewer plant losses and faster, stronger growth
- allows an extended planting season
- pots do not require a composting situation to biodegrade
- 100% organic and biodegradable - zero waste
- no plastic tubes pots or bags to be collected, cleaned, stored or disposed off after planting.
No other container; biodegradable, compostable or plastic, can allow a more natural development of the plant's root structure.
Fertilpots are composed mainly of wood fibre (primarily spruce, from forest thinnings), and some peat moss (from sources dedicated to horticultural peat production), and crushed limestone (to balance pH). There are no glues, binders or other chemical additives used in the production process - which is a key element to producing a porous container.
The wood is heat treated to destroy any phytotoxic compounds. Then a pulp is obtained through a mechanical process, which is conveyed to the moulding machine to form pots. The pots are then sterillised by a dryer. The entire process is very environmentally friendly using sustainable resources.
Fertilpots are available in a wide range of sizes and configurations including strips, trays, and preloaded trays.
A smaller Fertilpot can be used, compared to conventional pots or bags, which saves potting mix and nursery growing space.
Fertilpots work well in automated pot dispensers. The primary modification is a small needle on the gripping mechanism to penetrate the pot wall and allow for gripping and stripping.
Fertilpots are designed to retain their strength during the growth cycle, but degrade quickly after planting into the next container or landscape. Under greenhouse conditions small pots can be expected to retain their structural integrity for 4-5 months and larger pots from 12-15 months (10-13 months in outdoor nursery conditions).
The strength of the pot can be demonstrated by crushing it by hand. It should spring back into shape and remain intact. This suppleness helps prevent any breakage when the plant is repotted, and is a gauge of the pot strength while the plant is growing.
Permeability / Biodegrading
Because water, air, and roots will penetrate the walls of the Fertilpot so easily, there is no need for drainage holes.
Its unique composition allows water and air to permeate the pot, thereby assisting growth. Look closely at how open and porous the wall of a Fertilpot is. Even the finest of root hairs are penetrating the wall, forcing even more natural branching in the root structure.
Fertilpots break down by the actions of microbes in the soil. For most regions in New Zealand, Fertilpot will be signficantly degraded in about 6-8 months (depending on soil conditions). However due to the permeability of the pots they will allow natural development in the soil as if it were not there.
Aerial Root Pruning
When plants are grown in a Fertilpot, the roots quickly penetrate the pot walls. Contact with the air stops the roots from elongating, root buds start to appear and secondary roots start to develop throughout the pot. A dense network of root hairs develops throughout the whole pot.
Here you can see the lateral branching developing after the roots' apical dominance has been stunted by air-pruning. This gives the plant many more root tips with which to uptake water and nutrients.
In containers with impermeable walls, a few very long roots dominate the root system, reducing overall root development. This difference in quality of the root system is the main explanation for the marked difference in development between two identical plants grown in a Fertilpot (left) and a plastic pot (right).
This shows comparison of root structure between plant grown in Fertilpot (left) and conventional plastic pot of the same size
Conventional Pot or Bag
This is an example of a root structure from a plant left in a plastic pot too long. Eventually, sometimes several years later, this plant will die as the roots enlarge and choke the plant. Eliminate circling roots with Fertilpot.
Strong Fertilpot Root Structure
This is an example of a root structure developed with the biodegradable wood fibre pot. Notice the good branching structure and the development of secondary branching.
This squash seed was planted 5 days ago. It took 3 days to germinate. You can see that the first true leaves have yet to emerge, but the roots are already well through the wall of the wood-fibre pot. No need to wait for the pot to begin to break down before getting root penetration.
When a plant grown in Fertilpot is planted or repotted (without removing the pot), the dormant root buds set during aerial containment are immediately activated. There is no shock from transplanting. This difference is particularly marked when ground conditions are difficult (cold, drought, adverse season). Finally, as there is no deformation in the root system, the plant establishes easily and settles into the soil quickly. (Photographed after two months).
Fertilpots are often used in forestry plantings. Planting speed is essential to the economics of reforestation. Taking time to remove plastic pots means taking profits off the table. Better root structure means better viability.