1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
The objective of this cooperative research project is to identify alternative sources to pinebark as a container substrate for widespread use in the nursery industry. In recent years there has been an increasing demand for pinebark as an energy source coupled with a steady decline in domestic timber production due to foreign imports. This along with the rapid growth in the horticulture and landscape industry has resulted in reduced market share of pinebark for horticultural use.
1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Research conducted will evaluate alternative substrate souces for their potential to have widespread use as a container substrate for nursery production. Criteria for selection will include: cost effective while producing comparable plant growth, widely available, non-toxic to nursery crops, stability in production process, and appropriate physical and chemical properties. Possible sources are agricultural, industrial and municipal waste, as well as agronomic crops which might provide a sustainable biomass source as opposed to a byproduct of another industry.
Alternative substrate evaluations have continued at Auburn University. Experiments evaluating processed paulownia trees as potential substrate component were repeated in this reporting period. Experiments were also conducted with both greenhouse and nursery crops evaluating a by-product of processing oils from eastern red cedar trees. Results of these experiments were presented at the Southern Region International Plant Propagators Society (SR-IPPS) Annual Meeting in Valdosta, GA, in October 2011 and at the Southern Nursery Association (SNA) Research Conference in January 2012. Cooperators from Auburn University visited Poplarville, MS, several times to discuss ongoing research projects. Cooperators from both sites also met in Mobile, AL, (SNA Research Conference) and in Valdosta, GA, (SR-IPPS Meeting) where current and future research objectives were discussed.