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New information provides sustainable options for greenhouse operations
Date:4/4/2011

FAYETTEVILLE, ARContainers made from plastics are used in most traditional greenhouse operations. While plastic containers are practical, strong, and can be formed to any size, shape, or color, the extensive use of these petroleum-based containers creates significant waste disposal problems for the greenhouse industry and consumers. One example: a 2008 report found that a typical greenhouse operation in California discards over 3560 pounds of plastic trays, flats, and containers annually.

The amount of waste plastic generated by greenhouses has become an important issue as the industry focuses more on creating sustainable practices. Increasing the use of "biocontainers"containers that are not produced from petroleum and that degrade rapidly when planted in the field or in a composting operationis one way to reduce the amount of waste plastic generated by greenhouse operations.

In a new study that may provide greenhouse professionals with effective "green" alternatives, researchers report on a series of experiments in which they evaluated the physical properties of a range of commercially available biocontainers and compared them with traditional petroleum-based plastic containers. Scientists Michael R. Evans, Matt Taylor, and Jeff Kuehny compared seven commercially available biocontainers with plastic containers for physical attributes such as strength, water usage, and algal/fungal growth. The results of the study were published in HortTechnology.

According to Evans, corresponding author of the report, the results indicated that rice hull containers had the highest "vertical dry strength" of all containers tested. "Containers composed of 80% cedar fiber and 20% peat, composted dairy manure, and peat had lower vertical dry strengths than the aforementioned containers, but had higher vertical dry strengths than those composed of bioplastic, coconut fiber, and rice straw", Evans said.

"Plastic, OP47 (bioplastic), and ric
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Contact: Michael W. Neff
mwneff@ashs.org
703-836-4606
American Society for Horticultural Science
Source:Eurekalert

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