Contamination Control of Growth Media

Horticulture is a challenging area to work within due to product demands for specific growth media, the challenge of minimizing product spoilage due to contaminants, as well as ensuring that product volumes are sufficient to meet your Customers’ demands. All of these factors are critical to the success of a business.

What are the challenges?

There are two main challenges for minimizing contamination. The cleaning of growing trays is possibly the most difficult element for horticulture companies. It is widely accepted that this ‘cleaning’ is a timely and costly process – yet despite this, it is also widely acknowledged that washing is not the most effective method for horticulture contamination control. The washing process can be labor-intensive and requires significant investment in washing equipment. There is also a risk of post-washing contamination, which can result in the spoiling of a large number of products.

Waste management is the second critical element of managing the growing process. New laws have imposed strict levies on all businesses where there is significant waste from the manufacturing process, with the volume of cultivating pots and trays increasing with market demand, the risk of incurring some waste management fees also proportionally increases.

How can we help?

With changes in legislation eliminating the use of soil partial-sterilants and problems with fungicide residues in some crops, the horticulture market is starting to appreciate the need for more suitable methods of biological control of contaminants. Although various pesticides and bacteriological agents are being developed, viral agents, their fungal vectors and fungal pathogens are still a challenge.

Irradiation is a proven technology that is widely used across the world to eliminate potentially harmful pathogens from growth media & associated products and STERIS Applied Sterilization Technologies (AST) has been working with horticulture Customers for many years, helping them effectively decontaminate their growing trays, pots and other equipment, with greater efficiency than could ever been realized by current washing techniques. Some of the products regularly processed by STERIS AST include:

  • Growth media: soil, substrates & sphagnum
  • Water and fertilizers
  • Growing mats and trays
  • Pots

Additionally, irradiation offers a number of benefits to wholesale growers from an environmental perspective; by delivering an effective and safe method to recycle used pots and eliminate any potential pathogens they may harbor, the user can then reuse their pots time and time again.

STERIS AST has a number of facilities globally that can potentially help your business eliminate plant pathogens and ensure your products are given the best chance of successful growth.

STERIS Consumer Products Services Advantages:

  • High quality, cost-effective product processing
  • Widespread network of sterilization facilities
  • Multi-disciplinary technical staff and on-site quality assurance personnel
  • Detailed certification of your decontamination process
  • Dedicated radiation and ethylene oxide technology centers

STERIS AST operates under a quality system that is in compliance with 21 CFR Part 820 and applicable sections of 21 CFR Part 211. In addition, STERIS is registered to the ISO 13485 Quality Standards, and adheres to the requirements of ISO 11137 (Radiation) and ISO 11135 (EO).

Contact our team of experts to find out more about our Global Contract Sterilization, Testing and Validation Services.