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January 07
Nursery Industry Searching for New Potting Materials

alternative substrate We all have been to a garden center or nursery and bought container grown shrubs and trees.  I bet that most of you like me have noticed that what these plants are growing in is not soil.  There are a number of industry terms for what’s in the pot: growing media, plant substrates, container mixture and potting composts, to name a few.  These mixtures can include a wide variety of organic materials ranging from peat moss and pine bark to materials such as sawdust, hardwood bark and peanut hulls.

The American Nursery and Landscape Association’s Horticultural Research Institute is working to identify and develop regional and cheryl boyermore sustainable source of substrate materials for the the nursery industry.  The research is being done at number of universities and at U.S. Department of Agriculture research labs.

Recently, one of the researchers visited with me on Backyard Wisdom.  Dr. Cheryl Boyer is an Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist for ornamental nursery crop production at Kansas State University. Boyer earned her Ph.D. in horticulture at Auburn University in 2008. Her doctoral research focused on the use of Clean Chip Residual, a forestry by-product, as an alternative substrate. She has expanded this work at Kansas State University where she has been evaluating invasive tree species as alternative substrate materials for nursery crops.

She explains her research and what impact it can have for sustainability in this week’s Backyard Wisdom.  You can hear our conversation here.

You can learn more about alternative substrate research by visiting their website, Sustainable Substrates: Alternative Nursery Potting Materials Research.

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