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For anyone living in Europe, there is an Austrian company that makes an expanded clay media called "Liaflor" that is around one third of the price of Hydroton.

I've researched the two products a bit and the and it would seem to me that the production process as well as the physical properties of both expanded clay aggregates are the same (as far as I've been able to ascertain from various web sites, and after purchasing hydroton from two different manufacturers as well as this Liaflor).

After un-scientifically testing all three types of aggregate (hammer smash test, compression test, how much water will one liter of each aggregate soak up/hold test, TC's vinegar test etc)...they all came up very comparable. The biggest difference between the three was the PRICE comparison. (And shape. One kind of hydroton is almost perfectly spherical, the other is all odd-shaped, the Liaflor is odd shaped as well and the sizes are all between 8 to 20 millimeters).

50 liters of Hydroton (here in Serbia) is around $28 USD

50 liters of Liaflor is around $9 USD...

 

 

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Hello Do you have address in Austria? or do they have distrubitor in the US?

I was born in Austria.

Liapor GmbH & Co. KG
D-91352 Hallerndorf
Tel. (++49) 95 45/4 48-0
Fax (++49) 95 45/4 48-80
I haven't come across a US distributor, but that doesn't mean that they may not have one.
Here is a contact link in English http://www.liapor.com/en/contact.php

Interesting.

Do you know how much resources they have in years at what output?

The reason I ask is the although I LOVE Hydroton. It is not a sustainable resource, especially as it becomes more popular as more and more people get into AP. For those that have the spare coin, I suggest stockpiling this aggregate. 

 

I could only wish I could get an equivalent here in China.

As to exact capacity or output, I have no idea. But I do know that they opened a new facility in the Czech Republic (or is it Slovakia?, in my head thy're still one country :) and that this horticultural thing of theirs is just an offshoot. Most of there expanded clay aggregate  production is geared toward construction (lightweight structural concrete, fill/drain etc... Seems VERY far from a 'mom and pop' set up...

They have a "jumbo palette' that you can order (22 - 50liter bags), after Serbian customs (10%) and VAT (18%) tax it comes out to around $6 USD per 50liter bag. Which compared to Hydroton is ridiculously cheap. Fill out the contact info on the link above, who knows...if you can work out the shipping and customs, might be worth it?

They would probably be more apt to already have a distributor for China than the US...

 

Carey, you should be able to source a "hydroton" style product in China.... the product is marketed in Australia as "Nutrafield Hydro Clay"... and is imported from China...

 

The initial batches were very un-uniform in size, had lots of broken balls, and dirt.... latter batches were either really heavy, or that light that they floated...

 

They seem to have much better quality control in place recently...

 

I'll see if I can get you the Chinese company details... on the quiet...

Carey Ma said:

Interesting.

Do you know how much resources they have in years at what output?

The reason I ask is the although I LOVE Hydroton. It is not a sustainable resource, especially as it becomes more popular as more and more people get into AP. For those that have the spare coin, I suggest stockpiling this aggregate. 

 

I could only wish I could get an equivalent here in China.

Well this is kind of neat...

A sister company of Liapor's (Easy Green Division of Oekotau) that caters to just the horticultural/hydro crowd (no construction or architectural angle on their product marketing) has a whole couple of pages dedicated to Aquaponics! One page is just a general "what is aquaponics" type thing, while the other is info on their "Aquaponics Grow Bed Media" (that is what they call their hydroton). 

I wonder if it is the same product just packaged differently (and perhaps more expensive) as the construction grade stuff? At any rate it was nice to see that type of target marketing...

http://www.oekotau.de/Product-lines.4.0.html?&L=2

@ Rupert

Thanks. I'd appreciate any information. I'm not sure if we are talking about the same stuff but it sounds like it. The stuff (media) I used when I first got here is the only hydroponic media I have seen. There are two types a small round or larger but no uniform size or shapes. Either way, I choose not to use them because they were not porous enough for my liking in hydroponics but do use some to lighten my soil and as a mulch to protect the top layer soil from rain and sun. 

It is my understanding that not all clay for expanded clay pellets are equal. Here I simply use recycled crushed bricks which does play tricks with my pH but not enough for me to justify buying rock let alone the pellets, mainly due to the fact that it is not used in large scale here as it is marketed to the home/ hobby scene which Sunny Ark has pictures of.

 

In my quest for sustainability, it is my hope to use recycled or sustainably replaceable materials instead of buying products  whose energy footprint is humongous. So I miss out on a lot of opportunities to make some coin.

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