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Title: Evaluating fibrous polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and cellulose as components for soilless substrates

item Pasian, Claudio
item Frantz, Jonathan

Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/15/2008
Publication Date: 7/20/2008
Citation: Pasian, C., Frantz, J. 2008. Evaluating fibrous polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and cellulose as components for soilless substrates. HortScience. vol 43:1182

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The objective of this work was to test the suitability of FiberFill, a synthetic fiber made of polyethylene terephthalate, and Tencel, a cellulose-based fiber, as growing mix components by evaluating the growth of a variety of floriculture crops using substrates containing different proportions of the two polymers. A basic mix of either peat or peat:perlite blends were amended with the polymers up to 100% of the final volume and fertigated with water-soluble fertilizer as needed. In addition to visual observations of plants, dry weight, leaf area, plant height and consumer preference were measured. Results indicated that plants in 100% FiberFill or Tencel were smaller (DW), had less leaf area, and were shorter than plants grown in the commercial substrates or in mixes containing FiberFill or Tencel, with the exception of begonia, which were largest in 100% and 75% FiberFill. The substrate containing 50% of the polymers produced plants that were equal to or larger than substrates containing less Fiberfill or Tencel. These results indicate that both polymers have potential as soilless mix components, either as a substitute for high-porosity components such as perlite, or as a peat substitute. However, the movement of the greenhouse industry towards sustainability likely favors the adaptation of the cellulose-based component.