In the greenhouse business, organic and inorganic growing substrates are chosen for the physical and chemical properties necessary to support specific crops and growing conditions. One important physical property in substrates is air-filled pore space, a particularly important characteristic that allows for gas exchange between plants' roots and the outside atmosphere.
Perlite and parboiled rice hulls are the two of the most common components used to increase air-filled pore space (AFP) in substrates. A study compared these popular components to Growstones, an aggregate produced from finely ground waste glass.
Although they are widely used in horticulture applications, both perlite and parboiled rice hulls have disadvantages and limitations. Perlite, a natural glass of volcanic origin that expands when quickly heated, has become increasingly expensive due to costs of mining, transportation, and production. In addition to its rising price tag, perlite produces a siliceous dust that is an eye and lung irritant. Parboiled rice hulls (PBH) are produced only in specific areas of the United States, making high shipping costs an issue for end-users. And, because it is a plant-based component, PBH may also have limitations with respect to its use in long-term crops because of softening and decomposition.
Michael R. Evans, Professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Arkansas, created experiments to compare perlite and PBH with Growstones. Evans' results were published in HortTechnology. According to Evans, aggregates such as Growstones (produced by Earthstone Corp., Santa Fe, NM) have been proposed as alternatives to perlite and PBH to adjust the physical properties of peat-based substrates.
Growstones, which have been successfully used as a hydroponic substrate, are produced from finely ground waste glass. The ground glass powder is combined with calcium carbonate and heated in a kiln. Carbon dioxide is produced as the glass particles are heated and fused together, trapping air spaces inside the glass. The result is an expanded, lightweight product that is cooled before being ground to the desired size.
Evans' experiments showed that Growstones had an AFP higher than that of both peat and perlite. Additionally, when added to peat at a concentration of at least 15%, Growstones increased the AFP of the resulting peat-based substrate.
"Growstones can be used in a similar manner to perlite and PBH as an aggregate to increase AFP of peat based substrates", Evans said. "The primary differences were that, at concentrations of 25% or more, GS resulted in a higher AFP than equivalent perlite-containing substrates. Also, substrates containing 20% or more GS had a higher water-holding capacity than equivalent perlite- and PBH-containing substrates, and GS-containing substrates had a higher bulk density than equivalent perlite- and PBH-containing substrates."
All GS-containing substrates had physical properties within recommended ranges. Vinca, impatiens, and geranium plugs grown in GS-containing substrates were comparable to plants grown in equivalent perlite- and PBH-containing substrates.
Evans said that the experiments showed that Growstones can be successfully used as a component for substrates used in greenhouse crop production.
The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortTechnology electronic journal web site: http://horttech.ashspublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/21/1/30
Founded in 1903, the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated to advancing all facets of horticultural research, education, and application.
Michael W. Neff | EurekAlert!
Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product
02.12.2016 | Purdue University
New findings about the deformed wing virus, a major factor in honey bee colony mortality
11.11.2016 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine