Aging bark is a slow and controlled form of composting in which only the outer layer of the bark particle is modified chemically via natural micro-biological break down. No additives are applied to the material however strict moisture and temperature control is used to encourage the aging process. Toxins are still removed during the process as these are easily leached from the bark particle; however the inner portion of an aged bark particle retains its hard physical structure allowing slow degeneration with the pot.
Breaking down only the exterior of the bark particle creates the capacity for bark to absorb and hold water and nutrients for the plant while maintaining a solid structure. Under controlled processing, a stable substrate such as this can be produced in just several weeks. As Pinus Radiata contains a high amount of lignin nitrogen, drawdown is reduced and does not become a problem after aging.
Compare this to composting, where the objective is to break down the chemical and physical structure throughout the majority of the particle. This is done by adding a nitrogen source which artificially encourages micro-organisms to break down the substrate. This includes the removal of toxins and the break down of stronger celluloses compounds which are commonly found in bark.
The process used to create Orchiata is made up of 11 main steps. These steps are proprietary to Besgrow as the combined history, experience and technical information collected over the last 20 years has allowed them to refine the process.
Bark is removed from logs at various mills and local ports. Raw bark is trucked to the processing site
Raw Bark Conditioning
A process required to remove toxins and cambium from raw bark. The bark is placed in a pile for up to 12 weeks to naturally condition allowing the toxins to leach out prior to processing.
Conditioned raw bark is fed through a specialized shredder to reduce the bark into a more useable size prior to aging.
Shredded bark is stacked in windrows for 6-8 weeks for aging and stabilizing. Temperature (approximately 158 degrees Fahrenheit) and moisture (approximately 50%) are monitored carefully. Windrows are turned to increase microbial activity when they start cooling down.
Windrow material passed is onto several screens to remove fines and grade material into different sizes.
Wind tunnels are used to separate light contaminants, unwanted particles and stones. Screened material is then passed over carpet belts to remove wood fiber.
Orchiata is separated into the 5 different grades. These are tested twice hourly to check they meet specifications for maximum percentages allowed of contaminants, including wood and stones.
Natural Dolomite is applied to the finished Orchiata to increase and achieve optimal pH 5.5 – 6.5. The dolomite may appear whitish or greyish in the bag.
All batches of Orchiata are chemically and physically tested to ensure the media is of high quality. Each windrow is tested for pathogens. No windrows are processed unless they have a clear result. Random windrows are tested on a regular basis for nematodes. Testing is conducted by an independent laboratory run by New Zealand Biosecurity.
Orchiata passes through one final screen to remove fines as it is conveyed to the bagging plant. Orchiata is bagged and palletized by automated packing machinery. Orchiata is not pre-packaged and stored awaiting shipment. The product is packed at the time of shipment.
Palletized product is labeled and loaded into shipping containers. The containers are sealed and transported to port.
The result is a premium growing substrate ready to use straight from the bag.