What is Vermiculite?
Vermiculite is a naturally-occurring mineral composed of shiny flakes resembling Mica. It is produced in different grades or sizes. When heated to high temperature, vermiculite flakes expand 8-30 times their original size (a process called exfoliation) and loses weight. Mostly, exfoliated vermiculite is used in different markets namely horticultural, agricultural, construction and industry.
PROPERTIES MAKING IT USEFUL IN HORTICULTURE/AGRICULTURE
Exfoliated vermiculite is an excellent germination and potting medium for gardening and horticulture, it can also be mixed with other mediums. Exfoliated Vermiculite is sterile and therefore needs to have nutrients added to the growing mixture. Exfoliated Vermiculite is used in potting mixes in horticulture and gardening for the following reasons:
- It improves soil aeration.
- It increases soil moisture retention.
- It holds onto essential nutrients and minimizes fertilizer leaching.
- It has a near neutral pH.
- It is inorganic and sterile.
- It is much lighter in weight compared to other mediums.
BENEFITS FOR USING EXFOLIATED VERMICULITE
- Promotes early germination and improves yields.
- Plants survive longer in seasons of dry spells due to increased moisture retention.
- For crops under irrigation it means less water is required per hactare, thereby saving on energy costs, machine wear and tear and labour costs.
- Improves oxygen supply to roots.
- Excellent cation exchange properties results high nutrient retention.
- Excellent for pest and disease control.