Chemical, Physical, and Biological Factors Influencing Nutrient Availability and Plant Growth in a Pine Tree Substrate

dc.contributor.authorJackson, Brian Eugeneen
dc.contributor.committeechairWright, Robert D.en
dc.contributor.committeememberHarris, James Rogeren
dc.contributor.committeememberNiemiera, Alexander X.en
dc.contributor.committeememberAlley, Marcus M.en
dc.contributor.committeememberSeiler, John R.en
dc.description.abstractPine 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.en
dc.description.degreePh. D.en
dc.publisherVirginia Techen
dc.rightsIn Copyrighten
dc.subjectPinus taeda L.en
dc.subjectLoblolly pineen
dc.subjectpine chipsen
dc.subjectpotting mediaen
dc.subjectwood fiberen
dc.subjectwood substrateen
dc.subjectpine barken
dc.subjectpeat alternativeen
dc.subjectnitrogen immobilizationen
dc.subjectcontainer mediaen
dc.titleChemical, Physical, and Biological Factors Influencing Nutrient Availability and Plant Growth in a Pine Tree Substrateen
dc.typeDissertationen Polytechnic Institute and State Universityen D.en


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