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October 2006

Compost Tea - Chris Bowman, Commercial Manager of Notcutt's discusses the merits of using the Compost Tea system.

Notcutts Nurseries own one of the largest acreage of container grown plants in the country. Most plants are sold in 1 to 3 litre container sizes with 5, 7 and 15 litre also being popular sizes.

Compost Tea is used over all plant subjects throughout the year because Chris Bowman, Commercial Manager, and Philip Parageaud are convinced of the benefit effects that the product has given them over the past 5 years.

One of the earliest companies to use Compost Tea systems in the UK, Notcutts have always maintained a close relationship with the products supplied by Van Iersel in Holland, working with them and David Hutchinson (ADAS) on product development.

Ericaceous and general nursery stock are produced for the Notcutts Garden Centre chain and the general garden centre trade. Compost Tea is used from the propagation stages through all containerised stages until the plants leave the nursery.

Notcutt's has expanded the production of ericaceous subjects with Rhododendrons and Azaleas being the major lines produced.



"Since using the tea system we have seen a 50% reduction in the need to use conventional treatments to prevent disease problems."

Philip Parageaud who has overseen the full development programme with Compost Tea commented

"Since using the tea system we have seen a 50% reduction in the need to use conventional treatments to prevent disease problems." Chris Bowman went on to say, "The plants are much healthier as a result of the treatments, and the quality of plant is good, and consistent throughout the beds, which leads to a more marketable product for the garden centre trade".

Chris said "we have seen a dramatic decrease in the incidence of diseases such as Phoma on Ceanothus". "The effects of Compost Tea on the improved quality of the foliage of our species range is very marked. We have also seen our plants develop faster and progress to marketable sizes in a shorter period of time compared to non treated areas".

The Compost Tea is applied by sprayer at 2 bar pressure after preparation the day before application. The Tea is brewed in a 100-litre unit. The foliage is sprayed with a 2% solution every two weeks and applied throughout the nursery through the liquid feed system.

Chris Bowman inspecting Helianthemum 'Bunbury' grown from Kernock Park plug plants (also using the compost tea system).

Chris commented that work was underway to increase the concentration of the product applied as they feel that further benefits can be realised.

"The plants are much healthier as a result of the treatments"

On application equipment Chris commented "We feel that we can apply winter treatments with mist blowing equipment and then revert to conventional overhead 'fertigation' in the warmer months. This will reduce the amount of water required". The Compost Tea injection units deliver the product to the irrigation lines on parts of the nursery.

Soil tech is a trademark of Van Iersel.