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Mary A. Rogers

( Tyson et al., 2011 ). Other CEA systems such as vertical farms and passive solar heated greenhouses ( Fig. 1 ) use a hydroponic or soilless-media-containerized system, where regular applications of nutrients from external sources are required to maintain

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D.D. Treadwell, G.J. Hochmuth, R.C. Hochmuth, E.H. Simonne, S.A. Sargent, L.L. Davis, W.L. Laughlin, and A. Berry

drain. The troughs were filled to a depth of 6 inches with a commercially available soilless media approved for organic systems (Fafard no. 30; Conrad Fafard, Anderson, SC). The media was composed of 45% peatmoss, 25% pine bark, 15% perlite, and 15

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Fahed A. Al-Mana and Tarik M. El-Kiey

Production of five commercial cut flowers in different culture media, namelyI nutrient film technique (NFT), soilless media (perlite and an equal mix of perlite and peatmoss), and soil mix (2 sand: 1 loam by volume), was investigated in controlled fiberglass-house. Two rose varieties (Rosa hybrida var. Baccara and Madina); carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus var. William Sim); Chrysanthemum morifolium var. Delta, and Dahlia hybrida var. variabilis were used. Plants were watered as they needed by the same nutrient solution used for NFT.

Generally, growth and yield of Baccara and Madina roses, Chrysanthemum and Dhalia plants were superior in NFT than in the other media. On the contrary, the growth and yield of carnation plants were significantly greater in conventional soil or perlite and peatmoss mix than in NFT or perlite.

Flower crops grown in NFT generally reached harvest stage 5-10 days earlier than those grown in the other media except carnation plants. There were variations in the accumulation of N, P, K mg, ca, and Fe in plant leaves among the various culture media.

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Bruce R. Roberts, Henry F. Decker, Lindsey M. Ganahl, and Elizabeth Yarmark

Two biosolid-containing waste media [composted sewage sludge (Com-Til) and incinerated biosolids (flume sand)] were evaluated as soilless media for growing `Crenshaw', `Penncross', and `ProCup' creeping bentgrass sod (Agrostis palustris). The media were combined with sand and either sphagnum peat or a commercial growing mix (Metromix) and leached with 5.1 fl oz (150 mL) tap water either zero, one or three times before seeding. Leaching with tap water to remove soluble salts had no beneficial effect on germination or dry mass accumulation. Flume sand was not a particularly good rootzone component for growing creeping bentgrass sod; however, a sieved [0.08-inch (2-mm)] medium consisting of sand, Com-Til and Metromix (8:1:1, by weight) seeded with `ProCup' creeping bentgrass at 2 lb/1000 ft2 (9.8 g·m-2) and grown over 4-mil (0.004-inch, 0.10-mm) plastic in 3.5 × 7.5 × 2-inch deep (9 × 19 × 5-cm) trays produced good sod in about 6 weeks.

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Yuan-ling P. Lin, E. Jay Holocomb, and Jonathan P. Lynch

Soilless growing media are used extensively in the greenhouse, especially for the potted plant production. Unlike soil having a phosphorus (P)-fixing ability, soilless media allows greater P leaching from the media. Leaching of excess P results in inefficient fertilizer utilization and effluent pollution. In hydroponic and sand-culture systems, alumina adsorbed with P (P-alumina) has been developed as a P source to maintain buffered P concentrations in nutrient solutions. This P-alumina has not been used with soilless media; however, it may have a potential of serving as a P source for plant growth and a P buffer to alleviate P leaching in soilless media. Marigolds were grown in soilless media (peat moss: vermiculite: sand=2:2:1, v/v/v) with P-alumina at various concentrations being substituted for sand. These marigolds were fertilized with a nutrient solution containing no additional P, while the control was fertilized with complete nutrient solution. In four cultivars of marigolds, me P-alumina treatments produced comparable or superior growth and floral production compared to plants provided with complete nutrient solutions or conventional fertilizer. 70% of applied P was leached in conventional treatments compared to only 2% in the P-alumina treatments.

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George C. Elliott

Addition of lime to increase pH is generally essential for soilless media based on acidic organic materials. Media pH may decrease over time as the result of addition of acidic fertilizers. The objectives of this research were: to characterize reactions of conventional or finely ground lime in soilless media; to compare resistance to acidification in soilless media amended with conventional or finely ground lime; and to evaluate, for media containing rockwool, an equation to predict H+ activity (HA) of binary mixtures from HA of components. Various soilless media were amended with each type of lime at rates from 1 to 16 kg m-3 and incubated 8 weeks at 20 C. Subsamples were removed and pH was measured in saturated slurries. Finely ground lime was about twice as effective as conventional lime in adjusting pH to 6.0 within 1 week after mixing and wetting. Neither initial nor final HA of unlimed peat-rockwool mixes could not be predicted from HA of components. Three media were amended with each type of lime, planted or left unplanted, and irrigated with fertilizer solution with and without 1.0 N H2SO4. Final pH of media amended with finely ground lime averaged 0.2 units lower than media amended with conventional lime. Final pH of unplanted media averaged 0.5 units lower than planted media. Final pH of media fertilized with solution containing H2SO4 averaged 0.6 units lower than without. Addition of H2SO4 to fertilizer stimulated growth of New Guinea Impatiens (Impatiens xhybrida).

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Michael Compton and Timothy Zauche

Anaerobic digestion-derived biosolids (ADB) has the potential to become a complete or partial substitute for sphagnum peat in the greenhouse and nursery industry. Bedding plant production being one of the largest segments of the floriculture industry may possess the greatest application for this new organic addendum to soilless media. An experiment was conducted in which geraniums (Pelargonium ×hortorum `Red Elite') were grown in potting mixes formulated with vermiculite and perlite plus various concentrations and combination of anaerobic digestion-derived biosolids (ADB) and sphagnum peat to determine if ADB could be used as a partial or complete replacement for sphagnum peat in soilless horticultural growing media. Plants were grown during June and July 2003–05 in the greenhouse at 75 ± 5 °F and normal light and photoperiod. Plant growth was assessed by measuring the dry weight of stem tissue. Plants were harvested when at least 50% of the total number of plants produced at least one inflorescence. Floriferousness was measured by counting the number of visible inflorescences per plant. Dry weight of plants grown in media containing ADB was greater than those grown in media containing sphagnum peat as the sole organic addendum. Plants grown in media containing ADB were also more floriferous. This study demonstrates that ADB has great potential for use as an organic addendum to horticultural growing media as a partial or complete replacement for sphagnum peat. Use of anaerobic digester-derived biosolids in horticultural growing media is a protected intellectual property and available for license through the WiSys Technology Foundation.

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A.J. Bishko and P.R. Fisher

Our objective was to systematically quantify the dose response from applications of several basic materials recommended for raising pH in acidic media. A peat (70%)/perlite (30%) medium was mixed with a pre-plant nutrient charge, a wetting agent, and 0, 0.3, 0.6, 0.9, 1.2, or 1.5 kg dolomitic hydrated lime/m3, resulting in a range in initial pH from 3.4 to 6.4. Five rates of flowable dolomitic limestone, five rates of potassium bicarbonate, two rates of potassium hydroxide, a supernatant of calcium hydroxide and a distilled water control were applied as single drenches. The medium was irrigated with distilled water when it dried to 50% container capacity as determined by weight. Media pH and EC of four replicates were tested at 1 day and 1, 2, 3, and 4 weeks after application as a saturated media extract. Flowable limestone and potassium bicarbonate both significantly raised medium pH by up to 2 units compared with the control, depending on concentration. As initial medium pH increased, the effect of the basic chemicals on medium pH decreased. For example, flowable lime applied at 0.5 L·100 L–1 of distilled water increased pH by 2 units at an initial medium pH of 3.4 and by 0.4 units at an initial pH of 6.4. Potassium hydroxide and calcium hydroxide drenches did not significantly raise pH. Potassium bicarbonate was easier to apply than the suspension of flowable limestone, however both chemicals provide practical methods for raising pH of soilless media.

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Peter M. Shaw and Rita Hummel

The effects of vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizae (VAM) on the growth and flowering of Geranium `Sprinter Scarlet' in three greenhouse soilless media were investigated. All media proved to be well suited for geranium growth and VAM had no significant effect on most vegetative parameters. However, VAM significantly reduced the number of days to flowering of plants grown in Mycori-Mix and Sunshine Aggregate #4 by 6.4 and 6.6 days respectively. Plants grown in Mycori-Mix with VAM flowered 99.4 days after sowing, significantly sooner than those grown in the other media with VAM. Mycorrhizal plants in Mycori-Mix and Metro Mix had a greater number of lateral branches >5 cm in length than non-mycorrhizal in the same media. Regardless of VAM treatment, plants grown in Mycori-Mix had a greater number of visible inflorescences at harvest than the other two media.

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Bruce R. Roberts, Henry F. Decker, Kenneth J. Bagstad, and Kathleen A. Peterson

Two biosolid-containing waste media [sewage sludge compost and incinerated biosolids (flume sand)] were tested individually, together, and in combination with a commercial growing medium for growing wildflower sod in greenhouse trials over a 3-year period. A medium composed of flume sand and Metromix (7:3 weight/weight) in 7.5 {XtimesX} 10.5 {XtimesX} 2-inch deep (19 {XtimesX} 27 {XtimesX} 5-cm) plastic trays seeded at 20 oz/1000ft2 (6.1 g·m-2) with cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus), cornflower (Centaurea cyannis), plains coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria), white yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) produced a suitable wildflower sod in 10 to 12 weeks. A single application of slow release fertilizer (Osmocote 14-14-14, 14N-4.2P-11.6K) applied as a top dressing had no significant effect on sod development; however, a 4-mil [0.004-inch (0.10-mm)] polyethylene barrier placed in the base of each container resulted in increased dry weight accumulation and a higher root to shoot ratio relative to sod grown without plastic.