Date of Award
Master of Science
Christopher J. Currey
Most commercially produced plant containers are manufactured from petroleum-based plastics. Plant containers typically have a short useful lifespan and are discarded into the solid-waste stream when no longer needed. This generates millions of pounds of residual plastic waste, and ultimately that waste enters the environment. Biocontainers are plant containers manufactured from a variety of bio-based materials and offer a more sustainable alternative to conventional petroleum-plastic pots in commercial horticulture. However, researchers have identified functional deficiencies in commercially available biocontainers that make them less desirable to commercial container-crop producers. Bioplastics and biocomposites can have physical properties similar to petroleum plastics, and have demonstrated potential for replacing conventional plastic containers in research settings. This does not, however, reflect their performance in commercial crop production settings or commercial crop producers’ interest in using them. Additionally, it is not well understood how crop cultural factors such as substrate moisture management may affect quality of bioplastic containers or how containers affect the efficacy of cultural practices such as plant growth retardant (PGR) drenches. This thesis describes research conducted to address and discuss these objectives, as well as new potential gaps in knowledge regarding production of flowering ornamental plants in bioplastic-based biocontainers. It can be concluded that commercial producers in the upper Midwest U.S. can produce high-quality crops in these containers and are interested in using them. Plants grown in coconut coir and peat-based biocontainers require lower concentrations of PGR drenches compared to other container types, and lowering substrate water content during production reduces degradation of bioplastic biocontainers.
Nicholas Julian Flax
Flax, Nicholas Julian, "Quantifying the Effects of Crop-cultural Practices on Growth and Development of Herbaceous Annuals and Perennials in Novel Bioplastic Biocontainers" (2017). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 15304.