With the increasing demand for hydroponics, the growing medium is coming more into the picture. Though there are many, the popularly used are Rapid Rooster, Peat Pellets, and Rockwool.
Though each of them has its own set of advantages, in this blog, we will walk you through what they are, their pros and cons, and when you should consider using them.
Thus it’s the best comparison of Rockwool vs. Peat Pellets vs. Rapid Rooster. So let’s get started.
Rockwool as a growth substrate
So, what is Rockwool?
Rockwool is a lightweight hydroponic substrate manufactured by spinning molten basaltic rock into thin threads and forming them into cubes, blocks, growth slabs, and granular goods.
What is Rockwool made of?
Melted basalt, chalk, and sand are used to make Rockwool. Basalt is a fine-grained hard rock formed by ancient volcanic activity. The basalt is melted and spun into Rockwool, which looks like cotton candy.
It was formerly known as “mineral Insulation” since it was used for housing insulation. Rock wool is essentially fiberglass with a few minor compositional differences.
The main purpose of Rockwool
Rockwool is a porous substance that allows moisture to leave the structure. Because of the property, it decreases the risk of mold and bacterial growth.
Pros of Rockwool that you should consider
- Water Retention:
Rockwool can hold a lot of water, giving you an advantage in the event of a power outage or equipment failure. Rockwool absorbs excess water quickly due to its physical nature. Despite this, it maintains a small amount of water near the cube’s bottom.
- Loaded with oxygen:
It also contains 18–25% air, providing enough oxygen to the root system as long as the media is not fully buried. This special characteristic allows plants to get enough water while enabling more air to flow and oxygenate the roots.
- Reusability and structure
It comes in a variety of sizes and forms to suit a variety of hydroponic applications. Everything from 1-inch cubes to massive slabs is available. Rockwool is also a long-lasting material that does not easily break down or fall apart.
- Does not degrade or erode over time
Rockwool is a rock derivative that does not degrade or erode over time, allowing it to be reused multiple times. It is suggested that germs be killed by boiling or steaming between usage.
Rockwool for plants is sterile since it is a manmade product that contains no weed seeds, disease pathogens, or pests. This also implies that it is devoid of chemical molecules and microorganisms.
Rockwool is safe because it is made of natural materials and does not include any dangerous chemicals. It’s perfectly safe to use as a rooting medium and plant substrate.
Some challenges of using Rockwool
Overwatering can be a concern.
Rockwool is good for hydroponics because of the difference in moisture levels from top to bottom of the cube, but it might be difficult to know when to irrigate the plants because of this disparity. Over-watering can occur as a result of this.
Non Environment friendly
Because Rockwool is non-biodegradable, it will survive indefinitely in a landfill, making it a less-than-environmentally friendly product.
The same property that makes it long-lasting also makes it a nuisance to the environment. It will still be there a million years from now, wherever it was discarded.
Heath issues upon Human exposure
Human exposure to Rockwool, on the other hand, poses a health risk. Rockwool growing medium can irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs because of its physical qualities.
Rockwool, like asbestos, is made out of rocks and minerals, and its fibers and dust have been found to be exceedingly dangerous.
Because Rockwool has a high pH, fertilizer solutions must be adjusted accordingly. It’s also prone to pH swings, necessitating the need to keep an eye on your system’s pH levels.
Rockwool has a confined root environment and low water and nutrient buffering capacity, despite its high water retention capacity. The movement of water to plant roots may be obstructed.
Peat Pellets as a growth substrate
What are peat pellets?
They’re composed of compressed peat moss and resemble small earth discs. These compacted soil discs are constructed of peat moss, which is a preferred substrate for growing seeds and plants, as the name implies.
Purpose of Peat Pellets
Growers who want to run a clean seedling system or wish to be OMRI certified might choose peat pellets. Although the bigger size of peat pellets can be a disadvantage when planting some types of systems, farmers may find that large plugs are required for establishing some crops.
Pros of using peat pellets
- Larger than other plugs
Pellets made of peat are slightly larger than other plugs. For example, Flexiplugs or Q-plugs come in 0.75-inch diameters. Petite plugs are easier to plant in growing equipment like ZipGrow Towers or media beds because they are smaller.
Peat pellets, on the other hand, rarely have a diameter of fewer than 1.5 inches. Some farmers may find this sizing to be a disadvantage. However, some crops, such as tomatoes and squash, grow better in larger plugs. Some growers prefer the larger size because it is easier to handle.
- It’s simple to ship and store.
Pellets of peat are usually packed flat into a box and then dried and crushed into a disc. This lowers the cost of delivering peat pellets. The discs take up less space when compressed than an equivalent volume of soil. When moistened, the pellets expand into cylinders despite being crushed and dry.
- Fast for growth
They can offer consistent moisture during germination. It takes less time than utilizing seed starting flats and then moving the plants from the flats to tiny pots and finally to the garden.
- They are nice and tidy.
The peat is well contained and does not go into the irrigation too often because it is confined in fiber baggies. This is a huge benefit for growers that have clog-prone pumps and other equipment.
One of the baggies will occasionally break. The pellets, in this case, are not clean! The loose media swiftly spreads, wreaking havoc on pumps and delicate fittings.
- Can be immediately planted
The peat pots can be planted immediately in the garden or “potted up” into a larger pot to allow for additional maturation or to await warmer weather.
Challenges of Peat pellets
- Non-renewable resource
It’s possible that peat isn’t a renewable resource. Some argue that it regenerates quickly enough to be regarded as a replacement resource, while others argue that it is irreplaceable as old-growth forests. A variant of these pots made of coconut fiber (coir) might be preferable.
Because the mesh coating isn’t biodegradable and peeling off could harm the roots, it must be torn off.
- Impermeable to water
If you don’t thoroughly bury the peat cylinder, it can harden and become impervious to water and even pull water out of the soil.
If you leave the pots out all night in this dry area, the water evaporating from the peat will freeze the roots down below the air temperature. That could explain why heat-loving plants like eggplant germinate slowly.
The price is quite more than that of other plugs.
If you buy peat pellets in bulk, they usually cost around ten dollars each. This is near twice the cost of flexible plugs. Growers should, however, weigh the advantages of peat plugs.
The fiber baggie needs a long time to biodegrade.
While peat and coco coir are both excellent additions to the composting bin, the baggie that surrounds the pellet can take years to decompose. This implies that if you put the plugs in soil or media, you’ll most likely have to remove them again the following season.
Rapid Rooters as a growth substrate
What are Rapid Rooters?
An initiative under General Hydroponics, Rapid Rooter, is a type of polymer-bound Starter plug. The growth medium here is bound by a polymer. The intactness of the medium provides the conditions needed for germination.
What are the components of Rapid Roosters?
Rapid roosters comprise Peat Moss or tree bark along with a binder. Peat moss happens to be a soilless natural substance made of decomposed matter like Sphagnum moss. This peat moss, being highly water absorbent, ensures compactness with its high air-water density.
Purpose of Rapid Rooters
Rather than mixing medium with different ingredients and packing it in a tray, simply take Rapid rooster and put your seeds in it. They are designed to make the growth process smoother.
Pros of Rapid Rooters
- Ease of use
Polymer bound plugs, rapid rooters can also be incredibly handy, which is a desirable attribute for many growers in tightly spaced systems with a need for labor efficiency. Many are already damp and in the seedling tray when they arrive.
- Clean and neat
Because it’s impossible to put just a few seeds in these pots, you won’t use them again for tiny dust-like seeds like oregano seeds. The seedlings are suffocating each other. Little particles of material will not break off and block irrigation systems, unlike soil, plain peat, or plugs formed of loose media.’
You should be working with seedlings a lot! The fewer times they are handled, the lower the risk of disease!
Faster germination is a plus.
Polymer-bound plugs have proved to germinate faster than other types of medium.
Your developing cycle can be sped up in as little as a few days.
You can fit in one more harvest each year if you save 2–3 days per turn; this amounts to greater revenue! Depending on your present seedling operation, this could make polymer plugs a worthwhile purchase.
They can offer consistent moisture during germination.
It takes less time than utilizing seed starting flats and then moving the plants from the flats to tiny pots and finally to the garden.
It is simple to use.
Polymer-bound plugs are one piece and separate from one another. This eliminates the need to cut or break plugs apart, which prevents root damage and saves time. Handling polymer-bound plugs will not result in dense root zone areas.
Challenges of Rapid Rooters
- Reusability is difficult.
In the traditional sense, polymer-bound plugs cannot be reused. Roots tend to take over once seeds sprout in a plug and are put into the mature system.
- Overly grown issues
The plug is overly overgrown or broken apart by roots by the time you harvest the crop and remove the root ball from the system.
Composting is the final option. Polymer-bound plugs will eventually disintegrate and compost, but it will take 3–4 years for them to do so.
Benefits and costs must be balanced.
Of course, comparing the benefits versus the cost is a key consideration when selecting a substrate. For a tiny grower, a comparison of polymer and soil plugs was made.
Final Verdict between Rockwool vs. Peat Pellets vs. Rapid Rooster
In the battle between Rockwool vs. Peat Pellets vs. Rapid Rooster, it’s hard to set one concrete winner, but the following points can help you make a choice between Rockwool vs. Peat Pellets vs. Rapid Rooster.
If you want the best water retention medium for your plants, which also protects your plants from bacterial infection, you should prefer using Rockwool. It has a number of advantages, to be honest, but it might be harmful to your health.
Though we would recommend you to prioritize your health over anything else however if you use it, ensure to follow this tip below.
Keep in mind while using them.
Always wear gloves and use a mask while using them since the material they are made of can harm your skin, eyes, and lungs.
Small to medium seeds, such as tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplant, and chilis, made the most use of the compressed peat pellets because they only needed to grow a couple of inches tall before being transplanted to the garden.
Because it’s impossible to put just a few seeds in these pots, you won’t use them again for tiny dust-like seeds like oregano seeds. Some growers prefer the larger size because it is easier to handle.
We recommend utilizing peat pellets to start your seedlings indoors if you’re seeking a simple, beginner-friendly, and mesh-free method.
Polymer bound plugs, Rapid Rooters, on the other hand, are ideal for growers that wish to maintain a clean hydroponic system while reducing work time.
We hope that by the end of this blog, you will be able to make a decision between Rockwool vs. Peat Pellets vs. Rapid Rooster. However, is there any additional point you consider before choosing, if between Rockwool vs. Peat Pellets vs. Rapid Rooster? If yes, do let us know in the comment section below.
Can Rapid Rooters be used in any other farming apart from hydroponic farming?
Ans: No, Rapid Rooters can be utilized for basically any sort of cultivating. They are straightforward and adaptable developing tools. Rapid Rooters can be utilized for developing seeds, cloning plants, or as a developing mechanism for aqua-farming and aeroponics.
Is it safe to use Rockwool in hydroponics?
Ans: It’s perfectly safe to use as a rooting medium and plant substrate. Rockwool is good for hydroponics because of the difference in moisture levels from top to bottom of the cube, but it might be difficult to know when to irrigate the plants because of this disparity. Over-watering can occur as a result of this.
Is it possible to start seeds with peat pellets?
Ans: We recommend utilizing peat pellets to start your seedlings indoors if you’re seeking a simple, beginner-friendly, and mesh-free method.