Center for Applied Horticulture Research
Effect of biocontainer type on shoot and root growth of tomatoes and coir pot effect on field establishment of tomato plants.
The use of biocontainers in the nursery industry is on the rise. Biocontainers, are pots that are made with renewable resources, can be composted or recycled and are biodegradable. These materials are innovative; their main purpose is to reduce the impact of the nursery industry on the environment while appealing to sustainability-minded consumers. Since biocontainers are relatively new, there is not a lot of information available on their efficiency and use. Vegetables are an ideal crop to grow in biocontainers, since they can be planted directly in the garden with minimum disturbance to the roots. This should result in plants that grow faster and in reduced waste, since the containers are manufactured to degrade in the soil. There has recently been increased interest in home grown vegetable gardens, and nursery growers are responding to this by increasing the number of vegetable crops they grow. We designed a trial to test the effect of biocontainers on shoot and root growth, and for the degradability of the pot in the soil. We tested four types of biocontainers, DOT pot, CowPots, paper pulp pots and coconut coir pots and compared them to black plastic pots. In general, plants were taller when grown in plastic containers but more tender. Roots grew out of the biocontainers but some of them were more restrictive than others. The rate at which biocontainers degraded in the soil varied. DOT pot and CowPots degraded faster than paper pulp and coir pots. Biocontainers are a viable alternative to conventional plastic containers.
Results, First Trial:
Plants grown in plastic pots were taller than the plants grown in biocontainers (Figures 1 and 2) the rest of the plants were similar in size (Figure 1). Plants grown in plastic pots had heavier shoots than all other plants (Figures 3 and 4). Plants in coconut coir pots, DOT pots and CowPots had similar fresh shoot weights and they were lower than that of the shoots of plants in paper pulp pots (Figure 2).
Shoot dry weight was highest in plants grown in plastic pots and significantly higher than that of plants grown in coir, Cow and DOT pots, but similar to that of plants grown in paper pulp pots. Shoot dry weights of plants grown in coir and Cow pots were similar to those of plants in paper pulp and DOT pots. However, plants in paper pulp pots had heavier dry shoots than those of plants in DOT pots (Figure 4).