Set up in 2015 by young graduates in agricultural studies, Itasmart has been investing in R&D for the creation of a line of innovative substrates capable of meeting the needs of various greenhouse crops.
"Koltura, through which we commercialise coir substrates, was established the same year. Its name combines the terms 'cultura (culture) and 'coltura' (crop) to stress how, according to us, the agricultural world needs knowledge to grow," explains sole administrator Giombattista Nicosia.
There are two product lines: a more commercial one (Linea 3000) suitable for most crops and irrigation waters and Linea Qualità made up of innovative products developed for specific needs.
"We realised that, during their life cycle, plants go through periods of stress during which fungi and bacteria finds fertile ground to develop. Our high-quality substrate favours the balance between water, oxygen and roots, prevents the proliferation of pathogens and maintains conductivity at a constant."
The raw material is carefully selected from palm plantations in Sri Lanka.
"Thanks to careful sieving during processing, our product is free from fine dust, foreign organic and inorganic material and processing waste."
Videointerview with Giombattista Nicosia
The coarse part of the substrate is made up of 7 mm "chips" that act as a small reservoir for water and nutritional substances, which is very important in stressful periods such as the summer months. The studies conducted on a cherry tomato crop showed that "plants started to show signs of lacking water on the third day after the last irrigation." At the same time, chips have many micro-pores that maintain oxygen circulation constant and wash away sodium salts.
Why coir and why that from a single territory in Sri Lanka? "We have analysed different types of substrates for two years. We chose the one that better suited the characteristics of the soil and soil-less cultivation, preventing soil fatigue and hastening ripening, improving produce characteristics and the management of crop cycles while reducing environmental impact (no fumigants and other soil sterilisation substances) and enhancing the use of areas difficult to cultivate (multi-level cultivation)."
Coir in Sri Lanka
"The origin of the raw material determines the quality. Our coir is characterised by low conductivity and a high percentage of carbon over nitrogen (C/N), thus slowing down decomposition. In addition, it is light, well-ventilated and with a stable pH."
"One of Itasmart's main strengths is direct production: to better meet our customers' needs, measurements and volumes are available upon specific order."