It was a perfect planting day in spring when a leading name in horticultural products called round to see us.

They needed a new bulb propagation solution. But not just any new bulb propagation solution. This one had to be a lightweight, superabsorbent nonwoven that would manage water uptake and release within a micro-environment.

The challenge was growing on us. So we asked for more details…

The client described it as a semi-permanent lining, with the fabric used to keep seedlings hydrated during early propagation and replicate optimum growth conditions. Planted beneath the surface, it should naturally compost after an initial period of growth.

It sounded like our kind of project, so we waved goodbye to the client, cleared our desks and got dug in straight away.

The Project

Our innovative product design capabilities and competence in creating technical high-performance products was a good fit with the required specification:

  • Lightweight nonwoven
  • Control liquid uptake and release
  • Reduce evaporative loss and water seepage
  • Compostable
  • Cost-effective
  • Wet and dry integrity
  • Conformable
  • Strong and puncture resistant

Solution

A project plan was created with key deliverables to ensure each requirement was achieved within a strict timescale.

  • We supplied a polyester thermal bond fabric in different densities to illustrate the relationship between weight, absorbency and capacity.
  • Different fibre blends were compliance tested in a demonstration of fabric composability.
  • We created prototypes and ran trials to assess evaporative loss, seepage and water release in different environmental conditions.
  • Working alongside the client, we presented the best performing and most cost-effective solutions based on trial results and discussed the final product specification.
  • The product was supplied to the customer for final evaluation, where it was assessed against an existing plantation method in almost identical environmental conditions.

Result

The performance of this remarkable new fabric delighted the customer, surpassing as it did every criteria. Better still, early signs show a boost in plant growth within the micro-environment of the nonwoven lining.

The product has now been launched into the global industrial propagation market, and we are working closely with the customer to develop product variations to cater for different applications such as hanging baskets, plant pots and trays.

Since first appearing, the fabric has attracted excellent customer satisfaction reviews and rapidly increasing demand from propagation centres. Now, to capitalise on this exciting response, we have produced a heavier density product based on the same technology and specification to extend our market reach.