container substrate (11)

12 Oct 2020

Water and air relations in propagation substrates

Erin J. Yafuso, Paul R. Fisher, Ana C. Bohórquez (University of Florida), and James E. Altland (USDA-ARS)

Greenhouse propagation of unrooted plant cuttings is characterized by short container cell height and high irrigation frequency. These conditions can result in high moisture level and low air content in soilless container substrates, causing delayed growth of adventitious roots and favoring root disease. The objective of this study was to quantify and compare substrate water and air relations for three propagation substrates (peat, rockwool, and phenolic foam).

Click here to read the research article

8 Apr 2020

Having Success with Organic Growing Mixes

Paul Fisher, Jin Huang, Maria Paz, and Ryan Dickson (University of Florida)

Organic production of edible and medicinal crops in greenhouses is increasing. At the University of Florida, we've been evaluating production pf potted organic edible plants for retail sale. This article is primarily intended for growers already using conventional growing methods who also want to produce organic transplants or retail potted products.

HavingSuccesswithOrganicGrowingMixes (821 KB)

25 Nov 2019

Seeing inside your container media

Paul Fisher, Erin Yafuso, and Enna Bohorquez (University of Florida)

When you buy a good-quality root substrate, you are mostly purchasing holes. Solid particles from peat, bark, perlite, wood fiber and other components typically make up only about 20 to 30% of volume when a pot is filled with root substrate. The rest is made up of spaces, termed pores, which are filled with either air or water. It is difficult to visualize substrate physical properties such as porosity, but pores have a major effect on plant performance. In this article, we will try to help you see pores in a new light.

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Description of research activities

A national team of scientists is working to encourage use of alternative water resources by the nation’s billion-dollar nursery and floriculture industry has been awarded funds for the first year of an $8.7 million, five year US Department of Agriculture – National Institute of Food and Agriculture –Specialty Crop Research Initiative competitive grant.

The team will develop and apply systems-based solutions to assist grower decision making by providing science-based information to increase use of recycled water.  This award from the NIFA’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative is managed by Project Director Sarah White of Clemson University.  She leads a group of 21 scientists from nine U.S. institutions.

Entitled “Clean WateR3 - Reduce, Remediate, Recycle – Enhancing Alternative Water Resources Availability and Use to Increase Profitability in Specialty Crops”, the Clean WateR3 team will assist the grower decision-making process by providing science-based information on nutrient, pathogen, and pesticide fate in recycled water both before and after treatment, average cost and return-on investment of technologies examined, and model-derived, site specific recommendations for water management.  The trans-disciplinary Clean WateR3 team will develop these systems-based solutions by integrating sociological, economic, modeling, and biological data into a user-friendly decision-support system intended to inform and direct our stakeholders’ water management decision-making process.

The Clean WateR3 grant team is working with a stakeholder group of greenhouse and nursery growers throughout the United States.

For example, at the University of Florida graduate student George Grant is collecting data on removal of paclobutrazol, a highly persistent plant growth regulator chemical, from recirculated water using granular activated carbon (GAC) filters. This is being done in both research greenhouses and in a commercial site. The GAC filters can remove more than 90% of chemical residues, and are proving to be a cost-effective treatment method.