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. Hardwood bark was evaluated as a substrate for greenhouse crop production and results were published as an abstract in HortScience. Experiments were also conducted evaluating a by-product of processing oils from eastern red cedar trees. Results of these studies were presented at the Southern Region International Plant Propagators Society (SR-IPPS) Annual Meeting in Auburn, AL in October 2012 and published as an abstract in HortScience. Cooperators from Auburn University visited Poplarville, MS several times to discuss ongoing research projects. Cooperators from both sites also met in Auburn, AL (SR-IPPS Meeting) where current and future research objectives were discussed.