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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Washington, D.C. » National Arboretum » Floral and Nursery Plants Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #273360

Title: Physical and chemical properties of biobased plastic resins containing chicken feather fibers

item Roh, Mark
item Bauchan, Gary
item HUDA, MADUS - Horticultural Research Institute - Washington, Dc

Submitted to: Journal of Horticulture, Environment and Biotechnology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/26/2012
Publication Date: 2/28/2012
Citation: Roh, M.S., Bauchan, G.R., Huda, M.S. 2012. Physical and chemical properties of biobased plastic resins containing chicken feather fibers. Journal of Horticulture, Environment and Biotechnology. 51(1):72-80.

Interpretive Summary: Nearly six billion pounds of waste poultry feathers are produced each year in the United States and are processed into animal feed, buried, or incinerated. Using feathers with polymers or plastics derived from renewable resources will allow many environmental issues to be resolved. Using feathers to make nursery growing containers is an effective and hopefully profitable utilization of feather wastes. However, no information is available on how this bioplastic could affect growth and development of crops. Growth and flowering of floral crops depends on many factors including a medium, pH, and other physical and chemical properties. Based on the chemical analysis of six feather fiber pellet formulations mixed in media, four were not suitable and not recommended for future evaluation. Growth, flowering, and foliar analysis of plants grown in 10 cm pots containing 95 g medium amended with one of six pellet formulations were similar to the control plants. During the first 8 – 16 weeks of growth, nitrogen became available from two pellet formulations as detected in the leaves of the propagules. Slow growth, low flowering percentage, or even the death of Begonia boliviensis ‘Bonfire’ grown with one pellet formulation is attributed to high pH and high sulfur concentration. One formulation (P 45) is the best source of pellets, if nitrogen is supplied constantly to the optimum levels.

Technical Abstract: This study was conducted to (a) characterize bioplastic pellets containing feather fibers (pellets) by low temperature-scanning electron microscopy and X-Ray diffraction analysis, (b) evaluate growth and flowering of Begonia boliviensis A. DC. ‘Bonfire’ when grown in medium amended with pellets, and (c) analyze macro- and micro-elements in soil and plant tissues of begonia. Based on physical and chemical analysis of six pellets mixed in media, five were not suitable and not recommended for future evaulation. Pellets containing 10% glycerol were not suitable for use as an ingredient for commercial growing media. Pellet P 45 is considered suitable for nursery container production.