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John A. Ray, Ian A. Merwin, and Warren C. Stiles

Growth, nutrient uptake, and yield of peach (Prunus persica) trees was evaluated in various groundcover management systems (GMSs) for three years, with and without preplant soil additions of Zn, B, and Cu. In July 1990, micronutrients (none, or 135kg Zn·ha-1+100kg Cu·ha-1+1.1kg B·ha-1) were incorporated into the upper 20 cm of a silty clay-loam soil (pH 6.7, 4% organic matter), and a fine-leaf fescue (Festuca ovina) turf was established. Trees were planted Apr. 1991, and four GMS treatments (wood-chip mulch, pre-emergence herbicide, post-emergence herbicide, and mowed turf) were superimposed upon the “+/-” micro-nutrient preplant treatments. Extractable Zn, Cu and B concentrations were greatly increased in soil of plots which had received preplant amendments. Peach leaf content of Zn, Cu and B was also greater in preplant fertilized plots in the year of planting. However, in subsequent years only leaf B (in 1992) and leaf Zn (in 1993) continued to respond positively to preplant soil treatments. No significant interactions were observed between GMS and micronutrient availability or uptake. Peach growth and yield were not affected by preplant treatments, but were substantially greater in mulch and pre-emergence herbicide plots compared with the mowed fescue turfgrass.

Open access

S. Christopher Marble, Shawn T. Steed, Debalina Saha, and Yuvraj Khamare

Mulches have been evaluated extensively as a weed management tool in container plant production, but most research has focused on loose-fill wood-derived mulch materials, such as pine bark or wood chips. In this experiment, pine (mixed Pinus sp.) bark (PB), shredded hardwood (HW), and pine sawdust were evaluated for weed control and crop response both alone and in combination with a guar gum tackifier alongside a plastic film mulch, a paper slurry mulch, and the paper slurry mulch + PB and compared with a nonmulched, nontreated control and a single application of preemergence herbicide (oxyfluorfen + pendimethalin). Mulch materials were applied to nursery containers ranging from 7 to 25 gal at two different nurseries and at two research centers in central Florida in 2017 and 2018. Results showed that the plastic mulch provided more than a 90% reduction in hand weeding time and weed weight over a 6-month period, and similar control was achieved with PB, paper slurry + PB, and the HW treatment (64% to 91% reduction in weeding time and weed weight). No growth differences were observed with any mulch treatment in any species evaluated including ligustrum (Ligustrum japonicum), Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia), or podocarpus (Podocarpus macrophyllum).

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Susan D. Schoneweis

Festival of Color, an annual open house and educational outreach event, is sponsored by the UNL Horticulture Dept. and Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources. In 1995, a children's garden was added to the site to educate, entertain, and motivate families to garden together. Different theme gardens helped over 10,000 attendees learn vegetable and flower culture in 1998. Educational gardens have included: alphabet, pizza, taco, food and fiber, Christmas tree recycling, bees, international cuisine and lemon gardens. Fun themes have included a plant petting zoo, maze, flower “beds,” and a bean tepee. Most attendees are adults, so different home gardening topics are demonstrated in the grown-up section of the garden, including fall gardening, tomato caging, reblooming amaryllis, consequences of saving hybrid seed, and edible flowers. Plants are mulched with wood chips or multi-colored ground corn cobs to ease maintenance, conserve water and demonstrate these benefits of organic mulches. Of surveys returned by 541 first-time attendees, 98% indicated they learned to choose plants based on site/location, 41% said they learned to identify at least one pest, and 42% learned to implement water conserving landscape techniques. Of the 298 surveys by repeat attendees, 86% have learned improved plant selection skills, 63% now use water more efficiently, and 41% can identify some pests in the lawn and landscape.

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Mike Litvany and Monica Ozores-Hampton

Commercial citrus (Citrus sp.) groves in Florida use an average of 150 lb/acre (168 kg·ha-1) of elemental nitrogen (N) per year. There are about 853,000 acres (345,000 ha) of commercial citrus requiring about 63,975 tons (62,652 t) of N. At an average analysis of 12% N, about 533,125 tons (483,811 t) of blended nitrogenous fertilizers are applied to citrus annually. To meet this annual N demand from compost, it would be necessary to produce 3,198,750 tons (2,901,906 t) of 2% N compost. The market for high-quality compost products in Florida is far greater than the current or projected production capacity of the state. As long as the cost benefits of compost are clear to citrus growers, demand will always exceed supply. Not all composts are equal in their nutrient availability. The best composts for use as fertilizers are derived from sewage sludge or biosolids, municipal solid waste and sludge, food waste, and/or animal manure combined with a bulking agent such as sawdust or wood chips. Composts made from wood waste as their only feedstock contain large amounts of lignin and cellulose to break down within a reasonable period to directly offset chemical fertilizers. Ultimately, they will mineralize in the soil and provide all of the benefits described earlier, but their rates of availability are in years rather than months, like the other composts.

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Manuel C. Palada, Stafford M.A. Crossman, and Allison M. Davis

Chive (Allium schoenoprasum) is one of the most popular culinary herbs in the Virgin Islands, and local demand is always high throughout the year. However, local production is not sufficient to meet increasing demands. Chive production is constrained by insect pests, weeds, and high cost of irrigation water. A study was conducted to compare the influence of organic and synthetic mulches on yield and economic returns from chive production. The study also evaluated the effect of mulch on weeds and water use. Chives were planted in plots consisting of three rows 3.6 m long. Plants were spaced 20 cm within rows 41 cm apart. The plots were mulched with grass straw, wood chips, shredded paper, and white plastic. A control plot (no mulch) was also planted for comparison. Plots were arranged in randomized complete-block design with four replications. All plots were drip-irrigated and soil moisture tension maintaned at 30 kPa. Chives grown with grass straw mulch produced taller plants and higher number of tillers (slips) than all other mulch treatments. Total fresh yield of plots with grass straw mulch was superior to all other mulch treatments including the control. On the average, plots with grass straw mulch produced 1203 g/m2 of fresh chives. All mulches resulted in reduced weed population compared to the control (no mulch). Due to high rainfall during the growing season, differences in irrigation water use were not significant. Economic comparison indicated that the net return above mulch costs was 50% higher with grass straw than with other mulch treatments. To improve production and income, herb growers should consider using grass straw and realize other benefits, including weed control and improved soil fertility.

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Yifan Hu and Allen V. Barker

Uses of immature composts are difficult due to wide C:N ratio, high NH4 content, and phytotoxins, such as phenols and low molecular weight organic acids. This research focused on toxicity from high NH4 content. A compost of biosolids and wood chips was used. The compost was treated with (NH4)2SO4 to 2000 mg N·kg-1 (dry weight) to simulate an immature compost. The same compost without any external NH4 was used as a mature compost. Different proportions (regimes) of compost and soil provided 1/3, 1/6, and 1/12 compost (by volume). Each regime received potassium treatment at 0 or 0.6 g K·kg-1 as KC1. A nitrate treatment, at the same N rate as NH4 in immature compost, was factored into both mature and immature composts. For the mature compost, adding K generally decreased tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) growth (measured by shoot mass) regardless of regimes. Adding Ca(NO3)2 to mature compost greatly increased plant growth for the regimes of 1/6 and 1/12. When the regime was 1/3, this increase diminished. For the immature compost, adding nitrate restricted plant growth due to excessive amount of N, including already high amounts of NH4. This response was especially true for the 1/3 regime. Adding K to immature compost greatly increased plant growth for the regimes of 1/3 and 1/6; K suppressed plant growth at the regime of 1/12. The results indicated that using K properly can effectively reduce immature compost toxicity due to high amount of ammonium. E-mail barker@pssci.umass.edu

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A.A. De Hertogh and L.B. Gallitano

Dutch-grown Hippeastrum bulbs (`Apple Blossom' and `Red Lion') were packed in five readily available and economical packing systems and after transport and storage were evaluated as flowering potted plants. After being harvested and graded, bulbs were specially packed and placed in perforated cardboard boxes, shipped by boat to Raleigh, N.C., and stored in the original packing materials for 84 days at 48 °F (9 °C). At planting time, the best old basal root system and lowest disease incidence for both cultivars was obtained when bulbs were packed with hout-wol, a type of excelsior, in perforated polyethylene bags and placed in perforated cardboard boxes. Plants from bulbs with this system and those packed loose in polyethylene bags flowered the earliest. At full flower, the longest leaves were obtained with the hout-wol, box only, and wood chip systems. There were no significant effects of the five packing systems on floral stalk length, number of flowers produced per stalk, flower diameter, strength of the first floral stalk or leaves, or overall plant quality. After flowering, the root systems were harvested. The hout-wol packing system significantly increased the fresh weights of the old basal roots retained, secondary roots produced, and total weights of the root system. there were significant differences between cultivars. `Apple Blossom' produced fewer roots and lower quality plants (shorter leaves and taller floral stalks) than `Red Lion'. Other significant cultivar differences, e.g., days to flower, were attributed to genetic variation. Based on the most desirable forcing characteristics, the superior packing system for shipping and storing Dutch-grown Hippeastrum bulbus was hout-wol combined with perforated polyethylene bags.

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Calvin Chong

During the past 20 years, the Ornamental Nursery Research Program at the former Horticultural Research Institute of Ontario (now part of the University of Guelph) has been conducting applied research dealing with environmentally friendly and sustainable nursery production practices with emphasis on container production. The use of farm, industrial, and consumer waste by-products as amendments in nursery substrates has been a major focus. The program has evaluated hundreds of potting mixes derived from individual or combined, raw or composted waste by-products including spent mushroom compost, turkey litter compost, paper mill sludge, municipal waste compost, corrugated cardboard, apple pomace, wood chips from pallets, pulverized glass, and various types of tree barks. With few exceptions, all the above waste by-products tested under our cultural conditions provided acceptable to excellent container-growing media, often in amounts exceeding 50% and sometimes up to 100% by volume in No. 2 containers (6 L), even despite initially elevated and potentially toxic contents of soluble salts [expressed in terms of electrical conductivity measured up to 8.9 dS·m-1 in 1 substrate: 2 water (by volume) extracts] in many of the substrates. A key to these successful results is that salts leach quickly from the containers to benign levels (∼1.0 dS·m-1) with normal irrigation practices. High initial pH in most waste-derived substrates (up to 8.9) has had little or no discernible effect on growth of a wide assortment of deciduous nursery species. By-products such as paper mill sludge and municipal waste compost with soluble salts contents typically ranging from 0.8 to 2.0 dS·m-1, also provide acceptable rooting media provided salts are leached before use to values ≤0.2 dS·m-1. The porosity and aeration characteristics of waste-derived substrates tend to be comparable to, or better than, those of bark.

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Wayne J. McLaurin

The standard mix used by most nurseries consist of a 9 pine bark: 1 sand. With the ever-increasing cost of bark, nurseries are looking for an alternative. Sawmill residue may hold potential utility as part of a potting mix. Although sawmill residue is highly variable, it can serve as soil bulk as well as an organic medium. The purpose of this study was to determine if old sawmill residue not treated by pathogen-free requirement procedures could be used “as is” as part of a nursery soil mix. For this study, a sample, a typical conglomerate of undetermined wood chips, bark, and soil particles, was obtained from an “old pile” (just how old is not known) of sawmill residue. To determine how this sample would function in a nursery bark/sand mix, tests were run on its physical properties of pore space and water-holding capacity. The sawmill residue had the following characteristics: a mean 44.2% porosity capacity, 23.4% air space, and 20.8% water holding capacity. A standard fertilizer and lime amendment package was added to the sawmill residue in the same rates as a regular nursery mix. The sawmill residue and the standard nursery mix were then blended according to the treatment percentages. The treatments were sawmill residue/standard nursery mix 0/100, 10/90, 30/70, 60/40, and 100/0. The Ilex crenata `Compacta' liners were planted into standard 1-gallon nursery pots filling to just below the rim. The pots were randomly placed on a well-drained rock surface in full sun. No additional fertilizer was used and watering was done as needed. Plants were grown for 1 year. Visual assessments were made throughout the growing period and at harvest. There was no visible difference in any of the treatments as far as overall growth was discerned. The plants were of uniform height and width showing consistent, even growth and good leaf color. Root system growth and development were evaluated visually and over all treatments were uniformly good. No root problems were noted. There was not any plant loss in any treatment over the entire study. Each plant was cut at the soil line and dried for 24 hours at 1150 °C. Dry weights were taken after the plant material had cooled for 4 hours. Results were based on four plants per treatment times four replications for a total of 16 plants per treatment. There was not any measurable growth difference in dry weight among treatments 1, 2, 3, and 4 [sawmill residue/standard nursery mix 0/100 (41.03 g dry weight), 10/90 (39.83 g dry weight), 30/70 (38.98 g dry weight), 60/40 (37.42 g dry weight)]. However, treatment 5 [100/0 (31.03 g dry weight)] was significantly lower when compared to the remaining four treatments. The lower dry weight may be attributed to the 100% sawmill residue being too heavy and not well-drained enough. However, the roots did not show any damage from being too wet. Further work is being done with the sawmill residue.

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Timothy K. Broschat

applied above or below the mulch layer. Gilman et al. (1990) concluded from column leaching studies through cypress wood chips that NH 4 -N and NO 3 -N readily leached through this commonly used mulch material. However, as organic mulches decay, they may