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Use of ground miscanthus straw in container nursery substrates

Altland, James E., Locke, James C.
Journal of environmental horticulture. 2011 v.29 no.3 pp. 114
MSW composts, Miscanthus, Pinus, Sphagnum, air, bark, bulk density, chlorophyll, growers, growing media, growth retardation, plant containers, plants, prices, shoots, straw, United States
Pine bark (PB) is the primary component in nursery substrates in the U.S. Availability of pine bark is decreasing and price is increasing. The objective of this research was to determine if miscanthus straw (MS) can replace all or part of the pine bark fraction in nursery container substrates. Five substrates were created that contained 15% sphagnum peatmoss, 5% municipal solid waste compost, and the remaining 80% consisted of one of the five following PB and MS ratios: 0:80, 20:60, 40:40, 60:20, and 80:0. Additions of ground MS affected physical properties of substrates by increasing air space, and decreasing container capacity and bulk density. Additions of MS did not affect chlorophyll content, and had negligible effects on foliar nutrient levels. Increasing levels of MS caused a decrease in plant shoot dry weight, although growth reduction was most pronounced with 80% MS. Ground MS has potential to be a suitable substrate for nursery growers, however, some changes to management practices will be necessary.