Chemical properties of unprocessed coconut husks varied significantly between 11 sources tested. The pH was significantly different between sources and ranged from 5.9 to 6.9. The electrical conductivities were significantly different between sources and ranged from 1.2 to 2.8 mS·cm–1. The levels of Na, K, P, and Cl were significantly different between sources and ranged from 23 to 88, 126 to 236, 8 to 33, and 304 to 704 ppm, respectively. The B, Cu, Fe, Ni, S, Zn, Mn, and Mo levels were all significantly different between sources and ranged from nondetectable levels to 12.7 ppm. The NH4-N, NO3-N, Ca, and Mg levels were not significantly different between sources and ranged from 0.2 to 1.8, 0.2 to 0.9, 2.9 to 7.3, and nondetectable to 4.6 ppm, respectively. Coir dust produced by screening of waste grade coir through 13-, 6-, or 3-mm screens had significantly different bulk densities, air-filled pore space, water filled pore space and water-holding capacities compared to nonscreened waste grade coir. However, total pore space and total solids were not significantly affected by screening. Screen size did not significantly affect physical properties. Compression pressures used for formation of coir dust blocks significantly affected physical properties. Additionally, coir dust age significantly affected chemical properties.
Sreenivas Konduru and Michael R. Evans
Michael R. Evans and Leisha Vance
A series of soilless root substrates was formulated to contain either 20% composted pine bark or perlite and 0%, 10%, 20%, or 30% feather fiber, with the remainder being sphagnum peat. The substrates containing bark or perlite with 0% feather fiber served as the controls for the bark- and perlite-containing substrates respectively. For root substrates containing perlite, the inclusion of feather fiber increased the total pore space compared with the control substrate. For substrates containing bark, the inclusion of 10% or 20% feather fiber increased total pore space, but the inclusion of 30% feather fiber reduced total pore space. For substrates containing perlite, the inclusion of feather fiber increased the air-filled pore space compared with the control, and as the percentage feather fiber increased, air-filled pore space increased. For substrates containing bark, the inclusion of 10% or 20% feather fiber increased air-filled pore space, but air-filled pore space of the substrate containing 30% feather fiber was not different from the control. For all substrates, the inclusion of feather fiber reduced the water-holding capacity, but water-holding capacities for all substrates remained within recommended ranges. The bulk density of feather fiber-containing substrates was not different from the control except for the substrate containing 30% feather fiber with bark, which had a higher bulk density than its control without feather fiber. The difference in physical properties of the 30% feather fiber substrate with bark from its control substrate was attributed to the aggregation of the feather fiber when formulated with composted bark. Aggregation of feather fiber when blended into substrates at levels of 30% or higher would create difficulties in achieving uniform substrates.
Michael R. Evans and Brent K. Harbaugh
Before being forced as potted plants, tubers of two Caladium ×hortulanum Birdsey cultivars were subjected to different methods of de-eyeing (terminal bud removal), either before or after 6 weeks of curing and storage. The cultivar Frieda Hemple (`FH'), a type with numerous buds that does not require de-eyeing, was less affected by deeyeing than `Fannie Munson' ('FM'), which has a single dominant bud and requires deeyeing. De-eyeing had little effect on `FH' development. For `FM', regardless of the time of de-eyeing, all treatments reduced height, increased the number of leaves, increased total leaf area, and reduced mean leaf area when compared to intact tubers. However, as the size of the tuber piece removed during de-eyeing increased, the variability within each treatment increased. Based on the results of this research, the best method of de-eyeing would be to destroy or remove the dominant terminal bud while removing as little of the surrounding tissue as possible. The time of de-eyeing can depend on producer preference, since the time of de-eyeing did not affect development significantly.
Mary M. Gachukia and Michael R. Evans
Substrates were formulated by blending parboiled fresh rice (Oryza sativa) hulls (PBH) or perlite with sphagnum peat (peat) to produce root substrates (substrates) that contained 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, or 60% (by volume) PBH or perlite with the remainder being peat. After 0 (initial mixing), 4, or 8 weeks in a greenhouse environment, samples were taken and pH, electrical conductivity (EC), nitrate (NO3 −), ammonium (NH4 +), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) were determined. As the amount of PBH or perlite in the substrate was increased, the pH increased. After 0 and 8 weeks, the pH of substrates containing up to 30% PBH or perlite had a similar pH. However, the rate of pH increase at these sampling times was higher than that of perlite so that substrates containing 40% or more PBH had a higher pH than equivalent perlite-containing substrates. At the week 4 sampling period, all substrates containing PBH had a higher pH than equivalent perlite-containing substrates. For all sampling times, the difference in pH between equivalent PBH and perlite-containing substrates was not high enough to be of practical significance. For all sampling times, EC increased as the amount of perlite was increased. Depending upon sampling time, the EC decreased or remained unchanged as the amount of PBH was increased. For all sampling times and substrates, EC was within acceptable ranges for unused substrates. Substrates containing PBH had higher NO3 − levels than equivalent perlite-containing substrates. The NH4 + level of the substrates decreased as the amount of PBH or perlite was increased. The levels of NO3 − and NH4 + were within acceptable ranges for unused substrates. Substrate P and K increased as the amount of PBH in the substrate was increased, but the concentration of P and K remained unchanged or decreased as the amount of perlite was increased. None of the differences between equivalent PBH and perlite-containing substrates was high enough to be problematic with respect to crop production and all of the chemical parameters were within acceptable ranges for unused root substrates.
Michael R. Evans and Mary M. Gachukia
Substrates were formulated by blending parboiled fresh rice (Oryza sativa) hulls (PBH) or perlite with sphagnum peat (peat) to produce root substrates (substrates) that contained 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, or 60% (by volume) PBH or perlite with the remainder being peat. After 0, 4, or 8 weeks in a greenhouse environment, samples were taken and calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), sulfur (S), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), and boron (B) were determined. At all sampling times, substrates containing PBH had higher Ca concentrations than perlite-containing substrates. At all sampling times, Ca concentration decreased as the amount of perlite or PBH was increased, but the Ca concentration decreased at a higher rate in perlite-containing substrates than in PBH-containing substrates. After 0 weeks, perlite-containing substrates had higher Mg concentrations than equivalent PBH-containing substrates, but the opposite was true after 4 weeks. After 8 weeks, perlite- and PBH-containing substrates had similar concentrations of Mg. At all times, Mg concentration decreased as the amount of perlite or PBH was increased. Perlite substrates had higher concentrations of Fe than equivalent PBH substrates, and as the amount of perlite or PBH was increased, the amount of Fe decreased. PBH-containing substrates had higher concentrations of Mn than equivalent perlite-containing substrates, and as the amount of PBH was increased, the amount of Mn increased. Cu concentrations were significantly affected by sampling time, but at all sampling times, PBH-containing substrates had similar or higher Cu concentrations than equivalent perlite-containing substrates. Perlite substrates had higher concentrations of Zn than equivalent PBH substrates, and as the amount of perlite was increased, the amount of Zn increased. S and B were not significantly affected by substrate component or time. Secondary macro- and microelement concentrations of all substrates were within recommended levels for greenhouse crops except for Mn. Mn concentrations were within recommended ranges at up to 50% PBH. In most cases, PBH would be used at levels lower than 50%, but in cases where more than 50% PBH were used in the substrate, proper pH management may be important to prevent excessive Mn availability.
Paolo Sambo, Franco Sannazzaro, and Michael R. Evans
Ground fresh rice (Oryza sativa) hull materials were produced by grinding whole fresh rice hulls and passing the resulting product through a 1-, 2-, 4- or 6-mm-diameter screen to produce a total of four ground rice products (RH1, RH2, RH4, and RH6, respectively). The physical properties and water release characteristics of sphagnum peatmoss (peat) and the four ground rice hull products were evaluated. All of the ground rice hull products had a higher bulk density (Bd) than peat, and as the grind size of the rice hull particle decreased, Bd increased. Peat had a higher total pore space (TPS) than all of the ground rice hull products except for RH6. As grind size decreased, the TPS decreased. Peat had a lower air-filled pore space (AFP) than all of the ground rice hull products and as the grind size of the rice hull products decreased, AFP decreased. Peat had a higher water holding capacity (WHC) than all of the ground rice hull products. Grind sizes RH4 and RH6 had similar WHC, whereas RH1 and RH2 had a higher WHC than RH4 and RH6. Peat, RH4, and RH6 had similar available water content (AVW), whereas RH2 had higher AVW than these materials and RH1 had the highest AVW. However, peat had the lowest AVW and easily available water (EAW) as a percentage of the WHC. The ground rice hull products RH1 and RH2 had the highest AVW and EAW of the components tested. Peat had the highest water content at container capacity. As pressure was increased from 1 to 5 kPa, peat released water more slowly than any of the ground rice hull products. The RH1 and RH2 ground hull products released water at a significantly higher rate than peat, but RH4 and RH6 released the most water over these pressures. For all rice hull products, most water was released between 1 and 2 kPa pressure. The rice hull products RH1 and RH2 had physical properties that were within recommended ranges and were most similar to those of peat.
Stephanie A. Beeks and Michael R. Evans
The physical properties of new 15.2-cm plastic and comparably sized bioplastic, solid ricehull, slotted ricehull, paper, peat, dairy manure, wood fiber, rice straw, and coconut fiber containers were determined. Additionally, the physical properties of these containers were determined after being used to grow ‘Rainier Purple’ cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum L.) in ebb-and-flood benches for 15 weeks in a greenhouse environment. The punch strength of new coconut fiber containers was the highest of the containers. The used plastic containers had strengths of 228.0, 230.5, and 215.2 N for the bottom, middle, and top zones, respectively. The used peat, dairy manure, and wood fiber containers had strengths of less than 15 N for each zone. Tensile strength of all new containers was 10 kg. The plastic, bioplastic, solid ricehull, slotted ricehull, paper, and coconut fiber containers had used strengths that were similar to plastic containers. Total water used for wood fiber containers was higher than plastic containers. Irrigation intervals for plastic containers were similar to bioplastic, solid ricehull, slotted ricehull, paper, and coconut fiber containers. The irrigation interval for plastic containers was 1.32 days and the wood fiber container had the shortest irrigation interval at 0.61 day. Container absorption for coconut fiber containers was 255 mL and was higher than plastic containers. Wood fiber container absorption was 141 mL and lower than plastic containers. Plastic, bioplastic, solid ricehull, and slotted ricehull containers had no visible algal or fungal growth. The wood fiber containers had 79% of the container walls covered with algae or fungi and the bottom and middle zones had 100% algae or fungi coverage. The bottom zone of rice straw, dairy manure, and peat containers also had 100% algae or fungi coverage. The bioplastic, solid ricehull, and slotted ricehull containers in this study proved to be good substitutes for plastic containers. These containers retained high levels of punch and tensile strength, had no algal and fungal growth, and required a similar amount of solution as the plastic containers to grow a cyclamen crop. The peat, dairy manure, wood fiber, and rice straw containers proved not to be appropriate substitutes for plastic containers because of the low used strengths, high percentage of algal and fungal coverage, and shorter irrigation intervals as compared with plastic containers.
Robert H. Stamps and Michael R. Evans
A comparison was made of Philippine coconut coir dust and Canadian spaghnum peat as components of three growing media for greenhouse production of Dieffenbachia maculata `Camille'. The soilless media were prepared using coir or peat in various amounts (by volume) combined with pine bark, vermiculite, and/or perlite (Media A–50% coir/peat: 25% vermiculite: 25% perlite; Media B–40% coir/peat: 30% vermiculite: 30% bark; Media C–50% coir/peat: 50% bark). Chemical and physical properties of the soils were determined at the beginning and the end of the five-month production cycle. Plant root and top growth and grades were determined at the end of the experiment. Initially, saturated media extracts from coir-containing media had elevated K, Cl, and soluble salts levels compared to peat-containing media; however, by the end of the experiment those levels were lower in coir- than in peat-based media. Water-filled pore space and water-holding capacities were generally higher and air-filled pore space lower in coir- than in peat-based media, probably due to differences in particle size distributions. There were no interaction effects on plant growth between growing media and coir versus peat. Plant root and top growth in Media A > Media B > Media C and plant top growth was greater in coir- than in peat-based media. Differences in growth could be due, in part, to differences in media water-holding capacities.
Johann S. Buck and Michael R. Evans
Fresh parboiled rice hulls ground in a hammer mill and screened through a 1.18-mm screen and collected on a 0.18-mm screen (RH3) and particles with a specific diameter of 0.5 to 1.0 mm had total pore space (TPS), air-filled pore space (AFP), and water-holding capacity (WHC) similar to that of Canadian sphagnum peat (peat). However, RH3 had more available water, a higher bulk density (BD), and a higher particle density (PD) than peat. When blended with 20% to 40% perlite or 1 cm aged pine bark, RH3-based substrates had lower TPS, similar AFP, and lower WHC than equivalent peat-based substrates. The RH3-containing substrates had higher BD and average PD than equivalent peat-based substrates. When blended with parboiled rice hulls (PBH), RH3-based substrates had lower TPS than equivalent peat-based substrates. When blended with 20% to 40% PBH, RH3-based substrates had lower AFP than equivalent peat-based substrates. RH3-based substrates containing up to 20% PBH had lower WHC than equivalent peat-based substrates. RH3-based substrates containing 40% PBH had a higher WHC than equivalent peat-based substrates. When blended with PBH, all RH3-based substrates had higher BD and average PD than equivalent peat-based substrates. The addition of 40% RH3 to a peat-based substrate containing 20% perlite decreased substrate TPS, whereas the addition of 10% to 40% decreased AFP. The addition of 10% to 30% RH3 increased WHC. The addition of 30% RH3 to a peat-based substrate containing 20% 1 cm aged pine bark decreased substrate TPS and the addition of 20% to 40% RH3 decreased AFP. The addition of 10% RH3 increased WHC, but the addition of 20% or more RH3 did not affect WHC. The addition of 30% RH3 increased the BD, but the addition of RH3 had no effect on average PD. The addition of 20% or more and 30% or more RH3 to a peat-based substrate containing 20% PBH decreased substrate TPS and AFP, respectively. The addition 20% RH3 decreased WHC. The addition of 10% to 40% RH3 increased BD. Overall, RH3 was the ground rice hull product that had physical properties most similar to peat. Peat-based substrates in which up to 40% of the peat was replaced with RH3 had physical properties that, although different from peat controls, were within commonly recommended ranges for substrates used to grow greenhouse crops.
Stephanie A. Beeks and Michael R. Evans
The objective for this research was to evaluate the growth of a long-term crop in biodegradable containers compared with traditional plastic containers using a subirrigation system. Plastic, bioplastic, solid ricehull, slotted ricehull, paper, peat, dairy manure, wood fiber, rice straw, and coconut fiber containers were used to evaluate plant growth of ‘Rainier Purple’ cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) in ebb-and-flood subirrigation benches. The days to flower ranged from 70 to 79 and there were no significant differences between the plastic containers and the biocontainers. The dry shoot weights ranged from 23.9 to 37.4 g. Plants grown in plastic containers had dry shoot weights of 27.6 g. The dry shoot weight of plants grown in containers composed of wood fiber was 23.9 g and was lower than plants grown in plastic containers. The plants grown in the bioplastic, solid ricehull, slotted ricehull, paper, peat, dairy manure, rice straw, and coconut fiber containers had significantly higher dry shoot weights than plants grown in plastic containers. Dry root weights ranged from 3.0 to 4.0 g. The plants grown in the plastic containers had dry root weights of 3.0 g. Plants grown in paper and wood fiber containers had higher dry root weights than those grown in plastic containers. The only container that negatively affected plant growth was the wood fiber container. Plants preformed the best in solid ricehull, slotted ricehull, and coconut fiber containers based on dry shoot and dry root weights, but all containers were successfully used to produce marketable cyclamen plants.