Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Recycling perlite: New, improved method saves resources

18.03.2011
Method gives smaller greenhouse operations economical, eco-friendly alternative

Perlite, a processed volcanic mineral, is widely used as a component of soilless growing mixes. Lightweight, sterile, and easy to use, perlite is popular with greenhouse growers.

But because salt and pathogen buildup can occur when perlite is reused, it must be replaced every year or two to minimize the risk of crop failure. The cost of disposing of old material and replacing it with new perlite can be significant and often prohibitive for smaller greenhouse operations.

Hanna Y. Hanna, a researcher at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center's Red River Research Station, has developed a new method for recycling perlite that can save tomato growers a significant amount of money without reducing crop yield.

Hanna, who has done extensive previous research on perlite, says that using the same perlite to grow successive crops like tomatoes can be risky; it tends to compact and is subject to salt build-up and pest contamination. "Steam sterilization of used perlite before planting a new crop is recommended to safeguard against pathogen contamination, but this treatment requires the use of expensive steam generators and is not efficient in desalinating the medium", Hanna said.

In a recent issue of HortTechnology, Hanna reported on a new method developed to accelerate the recycling of perlite. The experiments were conducted in a greenhouse over three growing seasons to evaluate three different methods for perlite recycling and their effects on cost, desalination efficiency, and tomato yield.

Three recycling methods—"no stir/sift-then-disinfect", "stir-then-disinfect", and "sift-then-disinfect"—were put to the test for Hanna's experiments. Each recycling method consisted of two components: the reconditioning action and the hot water treatment. During the experiments, perlite recycled with the no stir/sift-then-disinfect method was not reconditioned before the hot water treatment. Instead, it was agitated with a nozzle mounted on a pressure washer wand during the hot water treatment. Perlite recycled with the stir-then-disinfect method was reconditioned first with an auger mounted on an electric drill, then treated with hot water. Perlite recycled with the sift-then-disinfect method was reconditioned first by sifting the perlite with a homemade apparatus, then treated with hot water.

"The results revealed that recycling perlite with the no stir/sift-then-disinfect method reduced labor input by 49% and 81% compared with the stir-then-disinfect and the sift-then-disinfect methods, respectively. The no stir/sift-then-disinfect method reduced recycling cost by 22% and 50% compared with the other two methods, respectively", Hanna noted. Tomatoes grown in perlite recycled with any of the three methods produced similar marketable and cull yields and fruit weight.

The results showed that the no stir/sift-then-disinfect method is less time-consuming, more economical, and has no negative impact on yield. The new method gives greenhouse tomato growers more cost-effective options for recycling perlite while saving valuable natural resources.

"The cost of renting of a hot water pressure washer and a few miscellaneous items can be the only out-of-pocket expense for using this method. Additionally, the method eliminates labor time and effort to remove old medium from the greenhouse, transport it to a land fill or a vacant field for disposal, and fill other bags with new perlite", Hanna concluded.

The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortTechnology electronic journal web site: http://horttech.ashspublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/20/4/746

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. More information at ashs.org

Michael W. Neff | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ashs.org

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

nachricht World Water Day 2017: It doesn’t Always Have to Be Drinking Water – Using Wastewater as a Resource
17.03.2017 | ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>