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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.

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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.