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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 819: International Symposium on Growing Media 2007

SEARCHING FOR RECYCLABLE OR BIODEGRADABLE GROWING MEDIA

Authors:   Zheng Youbin, J. Huber, Zhang Ping, M. Dixon
Keywords:   cucumber, pepper, urethane foam, EGS
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2009.819.53
Abstract:
Rockwool and several other non-environmentally friendly or non-renewable resources, such as peat moss, have been widely used as plant growing media in commercial greenhouses. Currently, >50% of greenhouse vegetables are produced using rockwool as a growing medium. At the end of its service (about 1-3 years), rockwool is disposed of as waste. This is becoming a significant environmental problem, especially in greenhouse concentrated areas such as Leamington, Ontario, Canada. To solve this problem, our research team at the University of Guelph has been working extensively with industry to develop and test recyclable and/or biodegradable growing media for greenhouse applications. We have successfully developed a recyclable growing system called SRI Enviro-Grow System (EGS) and a biodegradable growing medium. The EGS consists of a synthetic substrate slab which can be customized to different sizes (i.e. length, width and height). On top of the slab there are two arteries for continuous nutrient solution supply and disease filtration. This is a new concept for hydroponic plant production systems which combines Nutrient Film Technology (NFT) and conventional growing medium for the root zone. The biodegradable growing medium is a urethane-based foam. Greenhouse trials showed that both of the growing media were able to produce the same or higher yields of vegetable fruits (e.g. cucumber and sweet pepper). This paper presents the characteristics and the results of the greenhouse vegetable production trials of these two newly developed growing media.

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