Title page for ETD etd-11072008-104333

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Jackson, Brian Eugene
Author's Email Address jacksonb@vt.edu
URN etd-11072008-104333
Title Chemical, Physical, and Biological Factors Influencing Nutrient Availability and Plant Growth in a Pine Tree Substrate
Degree PhD
Department Horticulture
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Wright, Robert D. Committee Chair
Alley, Marcus M. Committee Member
Harris, James Roger Committee Member
Niemiera, Alexander X. Committee Member
Seiler, John R. Committee Member
  • Pinus taeda L.
  • loblolly pine
  • WoodGro™
  • pine chips
  • potting media
  • wood fiber
  • wood substrate
  • pine bark
  • peat alternative
  • nitrogen immobilization
  • container media
Date of Defense 2008-10-24
Availability unrestricted
Pine tree substrate (PTS) produced from freshly harvested loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) trees has potential for replacing or reducing the use of aged pine bark (PB) and peat moss as container substrates for horticulture crop production. The objective of this work was to determine the factors influencing nutrient availability in PTS compared to PB or peat substrates. Chapter two reports data on the response of japanese holly and azalea to fertilizer rate when grown in PTS and PB. This study demonstrated that an additional 2.4 kg∙m-3 of Osmocote Plus (15N-3.9P-10K) controlled release fertilizer is required for both species when grown in PTS compared to PB. Data are reported in chapter three on the effects of fertilizer rate, substrate particle size, and peat amendment on growth and floral quality, and on post-production time-to-wilting of poinsettias. Data from this work show that PTS requires an additional 100 mg∙L-1 N to grow poinsettias comparable to plants grown in peat unless the particle size of PTS was decreased or 25% peat was added, in which case no additional fertilizer was needed. Results also indicated that PTS shrinkage was similar to that of peat, and that post-production time-to-wilting in PTS plants was similar as plants grown in peat. Data in chapter four compares nitrogen (N) immobilization rates, substrate carbon dioxide (CO2) efflux levels, and nutrient leaching in peat, PB, and PTS over time. Data from these studies indicated that more N immobilization occurs in PTS than in PB or peat and that the substrate CO2 efflux levels (estimate of microbial activity) corresponds to N immobilization in all substrates. Nutrient availability, changes in physical and chemical properties, substrate shrinkage, and microbial activity in PTS compared to PB during long-term nursery production are reported in chapter five. Results showed that substrate nutrient levels remain lower in PTS and that pH levels of PTS decrease considerably over two growing seasons compared to PB. Results also indicate that PTS does decompose over time in containers, but substrate shrinkage of PTS is similar to that of PL and PB during crop production.
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