Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » Wooster, Ohio » Application Technology Research » Research » Research Project #436573

Research Project: Improving Nursery Profitability by Engineering Superior Substrates

Location: Application Technology Research

Project Number: 5082-21000-001-17-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jun 1, 2019
End Date: May 31, 2021

Objective:
Determine if Douglas fir based bark substrates can be engineered using conventional components for specific functions: increase water and nutrient efficiency, decrease time to market, or decrease weed germination and establishment.

Approach:
Pots will be set up in Oregon at two Willamette Valley nurseries and nutrition and weed establishment will be monitored. Three economically important ornamental crops selected by each nursery will be potted to fit into their respective unique production systems (e.g. 4” liner into 3 gal; 3 gal into 15 gal). At each site, approx. 600 liners will be potted into containers using 12 combinations of stratified substrates with controlled release fertilizer incorporated throughout, top-dressed, incorporated in only top strata, or subdressed. Pots with indigenous weed will be placed throughout the trial to provide weed pressure. Hydraulic properties of each substrate will be determined. Plant shoot and root growth as measured by growth index and dry mass will be compared to a control at the same experimental location and will be measured by the collaborator in the spring of 2020. Collaborator will also measure pour through pH and electrical conductivity monthly throughout the growing season of the study. Data will be appropriately analyzed with standard statistical software and compared to conventional substrates used at each respective site. Success will be determined by evaluating the (1) effect of stratified substrates and the (2) effect of fertilizer placement on crop growth and weed pressure. Success will be determined by evaluating the (1) effect of stratified substrates and the (2) effect of fertilizer placement on crop growth and weed pressure.