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Vermiculite is a hydrous phyllosilicate mineral. It undergoes significant expansion when heated. Exfoliation occurs when the mineral is heated sufficiently, and the effect is routinely produced in commercial furnaces. Vermiculite is formed by weathering or hydrothermal alteration of biotite or phlogopite.

Vermiculite is well established as a growing medium. It is most commonly used in compost formulations, usually in combination with peat or coir. Vermiculite/peat or coir compost formulations provide ideal conditions for plant growth. The presence of vermiculite particles in the compost aids aeration, improves moisture retention and promotes the steady release of added fertilisers, whilst the vermiculite itself contributes potassium, magnesium and a number of minor elements. The air/water ratios for vermiculite/peat or coir composts are ideal for the stimulation of root growth, and hence the production of healthy young plants. The vermiculite is sterile when processed. If stored correctly it will need no further treatment before incorporation into composts. Vermiculite can also be used as a carrier and extender for fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides. It is also used in a ground form for encapsulating seeds. Exfoliated vermiculite can also be used as a packing material for storing fruit, bulbs and tubers.

Vermiculite is a miracle mineral that has many applications, including the following:

Loose fill insulation; Light weight concrete; Isolative roof and floor screeds; Fire protection in chimneys and fire place installations; Packaging of dangerous chemicals; Carrier for animal feeds; Medium for incubation of reptile eggs; Fire proof boards and partitioning; Fire proof plasters; Many, many more . . . 

“What would you like vermiculite to do for you? “

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Five Benefits of Vermiculite

Here’s a quick list summarising the benefits of vermiculite in agriculture:

  1. Improved Soil Structure: Vermiculite helps to improve soil structure by loosening compacted soil, enhancing root penetration, and promoting better aeration and drainage.
  2. Moisture Retention: Vermiculite’s ability to absorb and hold moisture helps to regulate soil moisture levels, reducing the frequency of watering and minimizing water stress on plants.
  3. Nutrient Retention: Vermiculite acts as a reservoir for nutrients, releasing them slowly over time as needed by plants, thereby improving nutrient availability and uptake.
  4. Seed Germination: Vermiculite is commonly used as a medium for seed starting due to its lightweight and sterile nature, providing an ideal environment for germination by maintaining moisture and aeration around seeds.
  5. Root Growth: The improved soil structure and moisture retention properties of vermiculite promote healthy root growth, leading to stronger and more robust plants with better nutrient uptake and resistance to environmental stressors.

These benefits make vermiculite a valuable component in potting mixes, soil amendments, and hydroponic systems, contributing to higher yields and healthier crops in agriculture.