With more producers making the shift to substrate production, a Tasmanian company expects to find eager markets for its machinery that removes a manual, laborious and often wasteful process from the practice.
A range of crops including strawberries, tomatoes and peppers are currently planted in plastic substrate bags containing coir, rock-wool or other materials that are disposed of at the end of each growing cycle.
This requires separating the plastic from substrate and plant material before packaging the materials for recycling, or in the case of some growers the waste is simply dumped into landfill.
Launceston, Tasmania-based Marshall Machinery hopes its COIR-RX processing machine will make substrate production easier.
The machine replaces this manual process with a mobile platform that travels along the ends of strawberry rows to feed in the materials, separate them, and then automatically capture, compress and wrap the plastic for recycling.
COIR-RX also ejects the organic material which becomes an effective mulch.
“After years of research and development, we now have a functional machine that is proving itself in actual field use,” says Marshall Machinery managing director Rod Marshall.
He says a single COIR-RX machine can process up to 2,000 one-meter (1.1 yards) long substrate bags per hour, representing 5% of the time and half the cost of common practices.
He adds the system is also vastly more discriminating while sorting, ensuring a much more pure separation result for both plants and plastic.
“Marshall Machinery is now ready to respond to expressions of interest it has received from major berry producers in the UK, who have heard of the productivity and profitability benefits of COIR-RX, which has no competing systems for end-to-end processing in the world,” says Marshall.
“I have met with these producers in the UK with a view to exporting our locally manufactured COIR-RX machines.”
As well as responding to specific registrations of interest from U.K. growers, Marshall attended the European “EIMA” Agriculture Conference and Exposition in Italy Nov. 7-11.
The executive plans to build on interesting in the U.K. by educating key stakeholders in the EU agriculture market about COIR-RX, with the vision of building an innovative agriculture machinery exporting operation from Tasmania, while continuing to work with local growers on next-generation specialist solutions.