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What if my substrate has a bad odour?

September 14, 2021

When you open up a bag of substrate that has been laying around for a while, it is possible that it releases a bad odour. In this short article we investigate the cause of this odour and the implications for your substrate.

Do you smell something strange when you open a bag of substrate?

A smell resembling the smell of rotten eggs or ammonia is not harmful with regards to the quality or safety of the product, but it does require some attention before using the substrate. It can occur when a compressed package of substrate has been exposed to hot weather conditions during a longer period of transportation or storage. Under these circumstances, the naturally occurring, beneficial, anaerobic microbes in the mixture continue their natural metabolism processes. The microbes may start using nitrates and sulphates present in the fertiliser. This activity may be paired with a bad odour.

How to get rid of the smell

Good mixing, watering and aeration of the product will return the natural balance of the product. That way the odour will also disappear. In rare cases (for example, if the package is stored too long or somehow delayed for a long time during transportation) the microbes will influence nutrients from the starter charge (mainly nitrogen). That can cause the nitrate levels in the mixture to drop below the desired starting rate. This results in a stronger need for proper fertilising at the beginning of cultivation.

Read our related article to learn more about the proper storage of your substrate.

If you have any questions or doubts about the quality of your substrate, please don’t hesitate to contact your distributor.

Contact your distributor