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Harvesting of reed canary grass for sustainable growing media started

May 10, 2024

At Kekkilä-BVB, we are dedicated to developing sustainable raw materials for home and greenhouse cultivation. Recent experiments have shown that Finnish reed canary grass (Phalaroides arundinacea) is an excellent addition to growing media when mixed with peat. This innovation has significant potential for both domestic and international markets. The first reed canary grass fields which Neova Group planted in summer 2022 have just yielded their initial harvest.

Reed canary grass is a perennial crop that is easy to maintain and offers high yields. It is an ideal renewable growing medium, notable for its efficient carbon sequestration. The grass produces its first harvest two years after sowing and continues to produce for 10 to 12 years, with an average yield of 5,000 kilograms of dry matter per hectare. It thrives particularly well in former peat production areas.

This week, Neova Group successfully completed their first harvests at Kivi and Porkanneva in Kärsämäki, covering a total of 80 hectares. These areas were planted in the summer of 2022, and this marks their first spring harvest. Future harvests will be annual, starting in early spring when the ground is still frozen, and air humidity is low.

Despite recent snow cover, the harvest was successful, with the bales’ moisture content measured at less than 15%. Standard agricultural machinery isused for harvesting, first mowing and then baling the grass into round bales. These bales will initially be processed at our Parkano factory and subsequently sent mainly to the Netherlands, with some also used at our Eurajoki and Parkano mills.

Reed canary grass enhances growing media by improving airiness and water permeability, reducing the need for peat by up to 30%. It also helps prevent mold growth on the pot surface, making it suitable for use in larger growing containers.

At Kekkilä-BVB, we use about 6 million cubic metres of various materials annually in our growing media, with over a quarter being renewable materials like composts, perlite, wood fibre, and coconut fibre. As demand for growing media rises, we are increasingly integrating new renewable raw materials in them.

We are committed to environmentally smart farming and aim to minimise the environmental impact of our products. We have therefore committed ourselves in our Sustainability Roadmap to double the amount of renewable raw materials by 2027, compared to 2021. Reed canary grass, with its sustainable properties, is expected to play a crucial role in this effort, particularly in replacing materials like perlite, coconut fibres, and coarse peat fractions.

We are significantly expanding the cultivation of reed canary grass. By spring 2025, harvesting will cover approximately 800 hectares, and by spring 2026, this is expected to increase to 1,700–1,800 hectares.