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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Sibley, Jeff
item Gilliam, Charles
item Foshee, Wheeler
item Wright, Amy
item Fain, Glenn

Submitted to: Southern Nursery Association Research Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/1/2005
Publication Date: 12/1/2005
Citation: Sibley, J.L., Gilliam, C.H., Foshee, W.G., Wright, A.N., Fain, G.B. 2005. Development of nursery crop substrates from recycled materials and composted poultry litter. Southern Nursery Association Research Conference 50: 127-130.

Interpretive Summary: The materials evaluated in this study are plentiful nationwide and typically at a cost lower than that of pinebark. For example, poultry litter is sometimes available at the cost of hauling while ground pine chips destined for fuel or paper pulp use run about $5/yd3. Even with the added cost of additional grinding, chip-mill material may still be competitive with pine bark prices, and much lower in price than peat, which could lead to reduced production costs. Our studies indicate that ground pine chips may be have potential as a substrate component, but more work is needed on particle size and optimization of nutrition when combined with other materials. Also, additional attention to possible toxins in fresh wood from a variety of sources is needed.

Technical Abstract: This study evaluated potential substrate components of composted poultry litter (Ala. Agric. Expt. Stat., Crossville, AL), or municipal biosolid saturated newsprint crumbles (Tascon Inc., Houston, TX) blended with either ground pine chips or composted pine bark. The pine chips were originally generated for use as fuel or for paper pulp production but were ground in a hammer mill to pass a 3/8 inch screen for this study. Each substrate blend was pre-plant incorporated with 13.65 kg/m3 (23 lb/yd3) 13-13-13 Polyon control release fertilizer; 2.97 kg/m3 (5 lb/yd3) dolomitic limestone and 0.89 kg/m3 (1.5 lb/yd3) Micromax. Species used were Ageratum houstonianum ‘Hawaii Blue’, Salvia splendens ‘Vista Red’, and Annual Vinca (Catharanthus roseus) ‘Rose Cooler’. As a general observation, for all species, the largest plants across all treatments were those in which poultry litter was a component of the substrate. Also, as a general rule, plants grown in substrate blends containing pinebark as the primary component were larger than those grown with ground pine chips as the primary component. In many cases, dry weight of plants from pinebark based substrates was more than double the size of those from ground pine chips. However, plant quality, based on SPAD-502 values was not different among treatments for ageratum, and only one treatment difference was detectable for vinca.

Last Modified: 06/22/2017
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