Evaluation of plant development in a selection of retail plant growing media using shoot and root assessment

O. Doyle, C. Comerford, S. Tracy, R. O¿Haire, T. Moore, D. Ni Chualain
Anecdotal evidence suggests that variable quality (in terms of plant growth) exists in plant growing media products, particularly in the retail consumer horticulture market. This preliminary glasshouse study reports considerable variation in media composition, nutrient status and subsequent plant performance using novel techniques. A total of eight substrates (two peat, four peat-reduced and two peat-free) locally produced in the UK, were assessed using shoot growth parameters; plant height, plant spread, fresh shoot weight and dry shoot weight in order to evaluate their performance. In addition, investigations of root length and root surface area (2D, two dimensional) were conducted using the analytical software WinRHIZO® and an initial assessment of a novel three dimensional (3D,) methodology was undertaken with a view to assessing their use as tools in investigating plant performance in organic growing media. The results confirmed a large variation in plant performance across the range of retail growing media assessed. It is concluded that a more detailed assessment of a wider range of retail products is required. The 2D evaluation of root development was successful. However, more research is required into the development of a 3D tool for understanding and evaluating the development of plant root architecture in situ within an organic growing medium.
Doyle, O., Comerford, C., Tracy, S., O¿Haire, R., Moore, T. and Ni Chualain, D. (2019). Evaluation of plant development in a selection of retail plant growing media using shoot and root assessment. Acta Hortic. 1266, 165-172
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2019.1266.23
peat, retail, growing media, dimensional, assessment

Acta Horticulturae