Growing media for food and quality of life in the period 2020-2050

Chris Blok et al

Presentations IPS Jubilee Rotterdam 2018


demand, growing-media, horticulture, peat



Citation: Blok e.a. 2020. (Growing media for food and quality of life in the period 2020-2050.) Acta horticulturae, in press

Reflections on the world’s need for growing media for food and quality of life in the period 2020-2050.


Growing media in soilless cultivation are relevant in several ways:

  • Growers because of the more accurate application of water and nutrients (+15% growth) and avoiding soil diseases (+5/50%).
  • Society because vegetables are essential in a more healthy life style and ornamentals promote wellbeing for the 70% of people living in cities in 2050.
  • Authorities because growing media allow recirculation of drainage which saves 50% of water and eliminates emissions of nitrate, phosphate, etc.

The present volumes used for peat, coir, wood fibre, bark, compost, perlite, rockwool and tuffs are compared with the potentially available volumes of these materials. It turns out coir and perhaps peat are limited by annually available volumes and compost and tuff by available quality.

Finally an estimation of the increase in demand is made, based on the expected growth of the world population combined with the expected increase in living standards for most people. These data combined suggest a 2.5 times increase in vegetable production and a 5 times increase in ornamental production may be possible.

The rooting media volume traded in 2050 is therefore estimated surpass the present amount about four times. Quality maintenance, finding new classes of materials, proper communication with society and a broader product package (growing media and technology and knowledge support) will all be important to meet the demands. The future is no doubt promising but only for those who anticipate.