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Suzanne E. Allaire, Jean Caron, Isabelle Duchesne, Léon-Étienne Parent, and Jacques-André Rioux

A 2-year experiment with Prunus ×cistena sp. was conducted in pots using seven substrates composed of various proportions of primarily peat, compost and bark. Peat substrates significantly affected root and shoot dry weight. Water desorption characteristics and saturated hydraulic conductivity were measured in situ to estimate the pore tortuosity factor and the relative gas diffusion coefficient. The pH, electrical conductivity, C/N ratio, total and hydrolyzable N, as well as NO3 --N and NH4 +-N in solution were also measured. Estimates of the physical properties suggest that a lack of aeration limited plant growth. Plant growth was significantly correlated with both the gas relative diffusivity and the pore tortuosity factor. Among the chemical factors, pH and soil nitrate level were also correlated with plant growth. No significant correlation was found between plant growth and air-filled porosity or any other measured chemical properties. This study indicates that an index of gas-exchange dynamics could be a useful complementary diagnostic tool to guide substrate manufacturing.

Open access

C. I. Lee, J. L. Paul, and W. P. Hackett


Root regeneration from root cuttings of both difficult-to-transplant Pistacia chinensis and moderately easy-to-transplant Liquidambar styraciflua was studied in a sphagnum peat medium varying from 0-100% Ca saturation and from 0-50% air filled porosity. Maximum root regeneration of Pistacia root cuttings was obtained at 75% Ca saturation and 30% and 40% air filled porosity, whereas Liquidambar root cuttings regenerated roots best at 25% Ca saturation and at 20% to 40% air filled porosity. Indolebutyric acid applied to the root cuttings greatly increased root-regenerating potential of Pistacia root cuttings but did not affect the optimum Ca and aeration requirement(s). Similarly, indolebutyric acid treatment greatly promoted the root-regeneration potential of Liquidambar root cuttings. Satisfactory root-regenerating conditions of both Ca saturation and air filled porosity for Liquidambar root cuttings were a little broadened by indolebutyric acid (IBA) application.

Pistacia bare root seedlings also required high levels of Ca saturation and aeration for optimum root regeneration. Considerably greater numbers of roots were regenerated in peat having 75% Ca saturation and 20% air filled porosity than in peat having 0% Ca saturation and 5% air filled porosity. Root regeneration was not improved by increasing only the air filled porosity when Ca was low.

Open access

J. L. Paul and C. I. Lee


Chrysanthemum morifolium cv. Brilliant Anne was grown in 13 different media under frequent irrigation such that all media were nominally at container capacity. Media were selected to represent a range in airfilled porosity (0–20%) at container capacity with a depth of 12 cm. Substantial addition of organic amendment (40–90% v/v) improved aeration in a poorly aggregated loam and in two sands. Peat plus vermiculite had the best aeration of all media. Thirty day top yields were related to aeration properties of the media measured at container capacity. A value of 10–15% air-filled porosity was generally related to best growth. Oxygen diffusion rate (ODR) for the medium profile provided a better correlation with plant growth than air-filled porosity. A profile ODR of 45g O2 × 10‒8 cm-2 min-1 and above gave best growth.

Free access

Patrice Cannavo, Houda Hafdhi, and Jean-Charles Michel

an extensive list of abiotic factors that influence root growth in containers in their review. Among them, the physical properties of growing substrate are of great importance. The air-filled porosity and the water retention capacity and availability

Free access

George Gizas and Dimitrios Savvas

size range and distribution. Furthermore, the actual container capacity of a containerized substrate, and thus the air-filled porosity and the water-holding capacity, depend on container height ( Fonteno, 1996 ; Milks et al., 1989b ). Hence, the

Free access

Carl E. Niedziela Jr. and Paul V. Nelson

A new tube method for determining physical properties in container substrates was compared to an existing system. While both offer the advantages of undisturbed substrate and measurement of properties without altering the geometry of the substrate in the container, the tube method is easier to conduct. Both methods proved equally effective for determining air-tilled porosity, container capacity, total porosity, bulk density, and particle density.

Open access

Jeb S. Fields, Kristopher S. Criscione, and Ashley Edwards

Substrate stratification is an emerging substrate management strategy involving layering multiple substrate materials within a single container to modify physiochemical characteristics of the substrate system. Specifically, stratifying allows growers and researchers to rearrange the air–water balance within a container to modify hydraulic characteristics. Moreover, fertilizer can be incorporated into just the upper strata to reduce leaching. Research to date has shown benefits associated with resource efficiency, production timing, and weed control. With the associated benefits for substrate stratification, interested growers will need pragmatic solutions for onsite trials. Therefore, the objective of this study was to identify a cost-effective solution for growers interested in exploring stratification options. As such, this research was designed to identify a single-screen bark separation to generate fine and coarse bark textures suitable for use as the top and bottom substrate strata. Loblolly pine bark (Pinus taeda) was screened with either a 4.0-mm, 1/4-inch, or 3/8-inch screen, with the particles passing through the screen (unders) separated from retained particles (overs). Stratified substrate systems were engineered with an individual screen wherein the fines were layered atop the coarse particles from the same screen. ‘Natchez’ crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) liners were planted in either of the three stratified substrate treatments or a nonstratified control. Substrate physical characteristics were assessed for each strata by pre- and postproduction properties to identify changes of substrate. The final growth index of the crop was unaffected by the substrate treatment (P = 0.90); however, stratified substrates did increase dry root weight (P = 0.02), with the smallest screen (4.0 mm) resulting in the greatest root weight. Separation of roots between the two strata indicated the presence of more roots in the upper strata in all substrates. However, the stratified substrates resulted in a greater shift in root location, encouraging increased rooting in the upper strata with fine particles, with the largest screen (3/8 inch) resulting in the greatest differentiation between upper and lower rooting. Each stratified treatment had increase in water-holding capacity in the lower (coarser) strata without changes in the upper strata. Thus, we conclude that single screens can be used to build stratified substrate systems. Moreover, screen aperture size may be used to achieve different outcomes with regard to root growth and development as well as water–air balance. Further research may indicate that screen selection may be used to target specific crop needs.

Full access

Juha Heiskanen

Two commercially produced growth media made of light, low humified sphagnum peat, were used to determine how filling into containers affects the particle size distribution and water retention characteristics of peat. It was shown that the filling procedure used broke up the peat particles, resulting in a significant increase in the proportion of particles < 1 mm (g·g-1). Due to the increased proportion of fine particles, the water retention of the peat media increased under wet conditions (-0.1 kPa matric potential), while the air-filled porosity decreased to nearly 0. Also, at matric potentials lower than -0.1 kPa, the reduction in air-filled porosity may restrict aeration and availability of oxygen to roots, thus reducing growth of plants.

Free access

Daniel C. Bowman, Richard Y. Evans, and Linda L. Dodge

A study was conducted to determine the potential for using ground automobile tires as a container medium amendment. Rooted cuttings of chrysanthemum [Dendranthema × grandiflorum (Ramat.) Kitamura] were planted in 1.56-liter pots containing 1 sand:2 sawdust (v/v) or media in which coarsely or finely ground particles of rubber substituted for 33%, 67%, or 100% of the sawdust. Amendment with the coarse material decreased total porosity and container capacity and increased air-filled porosity and bulk density relative to the sawdust control. Amending the medium with the fine material did not appreciably alter total porosity, container capacity, or bulk density, but did increase air-filled porosity. Plant height, fresh weight, dry weight, and number of open flowers were reduced significantly in rubber-amended media compared to sawdust controls. Rubber amendment reduced shoot tissue concentrations of N, P, K, Ca, Mg, and Cu, but increased Zn as much as 74-fold over control values. There was no accumulation of other heavy metals (Cd, Cr, Ni, Pb) or Na in the tissue due to rubber amendment. This study demonstrates that ground tires might be used as a component of container media in the production of greenhouse chrysanthemums. However, growth reductions and the potential for Zn toxicity may limit the usefulness of ground tires as a substitute for conventional organic amendments.

Free access

Kimberly A. Klock-Moore and George E. Fitzpatrick

Analytical determination and confirmation of minimum compost processing times and minimum curing times can aid commercial growers in selecting compost materials that should give them more reliable and consistent results in their operations. Five-cubic-yard volumes of yard-trimmings were assembled into three 1.25-cubic-yard compost piles at 60-day intervals. At the conclusion of the experiment, there were three piles each of compost of the following ages: 10 months, 8 months, 6 months, and 2 months. Compost was collected from each pile and screened through a 0.75-inch screen. Bulk density, water-holding capacity, air-filled porosity, carbon to nitrogen ratio, electrical conductivity, and ATPase activity were determined on samples from each reference compost pile. A bioassay using beans also was performed. These data will be presented.