Submitted to: The Buckeye
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/21/2014
Publication Date: 7/1/2014
Citation: Altland, J.E. 2014. Cation exchange capacity of pine bark substrates. The Buckeye. 25(6):40-42.
Technical Abstract: Cation exchange capacity (CEC) is an important soil and substrate chemical property. It describes a substrate's ability to retain cation nutrients. Higher CEC values for a substrate generally result in greater amounts of nutrients retained in the substrate and available for plant uptake, and greater buffering against change in pH over time. The objective of this research was to determine which management factors affect CEC of pine bark substrates, the most common substrate type used in nursery crop production in the eastern U.S. We determined the variability of CEC in different sources of pine bark, as well as the influence of particle size, substrate pH, and peat amendment on pine bark CEC. We determined that particle size of the pine bark had the greatest effect on CEC. Substrate pH and peatmoss amendment had little or no effect on CEC. Nursery producers should choose a bark source with the greatest percentage of fine particles to maximize CEC.