Wood fiber in pot plant culture; peat replacement up to 50% in volume?

B. Eveleens, A. van Winkel, C. Blok
Use of peat and coir in horticulture is under pressure because of the negative effects on the environment. Peat harvesting releases CO2 into the atmosphere and changes the wetland ecosystem. Coir production can cause salt pollution in the country of origin as the product has a high salt level and is washed with fresh water before use as a substrate. HydraFiber, a specific wood fiber product was tested as substitute for (part of) peat and coir in professional potting soils. Wood fiber was mixed in 3 volume percentage ratios (30, 40 and 50% v v‑1) with peat or coir. Nutrient content and stability were used to calculate appropriate fertiliser levels for each mixture for growth of a begonia crop in an ebb and flood system. Addition of up to 50% v v‑1 wood fiber to peat or coir has no negative effect on the rate of development to flowering of a 10 week crop. The ratio of weight/length of the plants is similar for all treatments. Addition of 40% and 50% v v‑1 wood fiber to peat reduces water content by 16% v v‑1 and increases air content by the same amount in the substrate in the range of -6 to -100 cm pressure head. Addition of wood fiber to coir has a similar effect. A lower average water content in substrate mixes of peat and wood fiber indicates it is more difficult to overirrigate but that it also requires a more precise monitoring of both, water content and nutrient status. It also requires a higher frequency of irrigation and more frequent adaptations of the nutrient level in the water supply. Using wood fiber in percentages from 30 to 50% v v‑1 may also require an adaptation in the growing medium used for propagation plugs.
Eveleens, B., van Winkel, A. and Blok, C. (2021). Wood fiber in pot plant culture; peat replacement up to 50% in volume?. Acta Hortic. 1317, 165-174
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2021.1317.20
peat reduction, N accumulation, irrigation, peat alternative, begonia

Acta Horticulturae