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The TerraCottem Story

A unique story

In 1983, Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem and a team from the Laboratory of Plant Morphology, Systematics and Ecology at the University of Ghent (Belgium) started a research program to grow plants in the Sahel region of Africa using less water.

Arbole, Burkina Faso

Arbole, Burkina Faso 1988


Native trees were planted with TerraCottem just before the rainy season.

Arbole, Burkina Faso 1990


The same trees 2 years later.

Arbole, Burkina Faso 1992


The same trees 4 years after planting.

Scientific heritage

In the first phase, they developed a screening method to study the influence of a wide variety of materials (cocoa husks, compost, hydroabsorbent polymers, peat, vermiculite, zeolite, coir fibre, inorganic and organic fertilisers, proteins, starches, etc) on plant growth, singularly and in combinations. The team from Ghent found that by mixing certain hydroabsorbent, nutritive and root growth stimulating components together, a superior soil conditioning compound was attained which produced dramatic and swift results. The Laboratory Plant Morphology, Systematics and Ecology was able to conclusively demonstrate that certain materials complement each other in a synergetic manner and provide soil conditioning benefits whose collective effect is better than the effect of their individual parts. The research effort led by Prof. W. Van Cotthem resulted in the TerraCottem soil conditioner, a mixture of more than twenty components that work in synergy to improve growing conditions and plant growth.

Ten years of testing, both in the laboratory and in the field, were completed before the soil conditioning technology was made available commercially on an international scale.

A commercial company is born

The TerraCottem company was born out of a meeting between Professor Van Cotthem, and Bernard Devos, a Belgian industrialist drawn by the technology’s immense potential from a business, environmental and humanitarian point of view. TerraCottem was in need of a marketing strategy and international distribution network and Bernard Devos was keen to invest. The company was established in 1993 and quickly built a distribution network in over 40 countries worldwide with export currently representing 75% of its global turnover. Fifteen years into the business, the company went from a single product to a range of TerraCottem soil conditioners, all based on the TerraCottem principle.

In 2013 the company was restructured with a capital increase and consolidation of the financial situation.

Three years later, Carol Devos, Bernard Devos' eldest daughter, in charge of our international sales office in Spain, also took over the position of general manager of our manufacturing company. In 2019 we moved the factory in Belgium to a larger facility owing to increased national and international demand for our soil conditioners.

TerraCottem primarily supplies the landscaping, reforestation, horticulture and sports turf industries and now also wants to reach the retail market through online sales.

In 2018 we celebrated our 25th anniversary and published 25 client stories. We decided to put TerraCottem users in the spotlight and we haven’t stopped since. Dozens of stories have been added to our news blog.

In 2023 TerraCottem exists for 30 years. Even if it is not considered a milestone birthday, we will mark the occasion. After three difficult years – first COVID and then the war – we want to share good news and celebrate with our distributors and clients what we have achieved together in those 30 years. We will commemorate the anniversary throughout the entire year.

For more information about TerraCottem, visit TerraCottem's website.