Private-Public Effort Aims to Develop Biobased Nursery
June 14, 2006
Plant pots made from farm wastes could
one day be a boon to the horticultural industryand to the environment.
The Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
and the Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) of the
American Nursery and Landscape
Association are working together to create biodegradable pots for nursery
ARS and HRI signed a three-year cooperative research agreement to develop
and test biobased nursery containers. ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief
scientific research agency. HRI is a nonprofit organization based in
ARS research associate
Barone, in the
Management and Byproduct Utilization Research Unit at the
A. Wallace Beltsville (Md.) Agricultural Research Center, is slated to
formulate the biodegradable nursery containers. He will test the suitability of
agricultural byproducts such as poultry feathers, egg protein and lipid, milk
and cheese protein, blood protein, animal and plant lipids, polysaccharides and
plant proteins for conversion into polymeric products that can be pressed into
Barone will also design and build a mold of standard container dimensions to
match nursery industry standards.
Fare, in the
National Arboretum's Floral and Nursery Plants Research Unit at
McMinnville, Tenn., will study the effects of the new, biobased containers on
plants and determine their longevity under nursery production conditions.
The pots will also be tested for use in composting, during which carbon
dioxide production will be monitored. The ultraviolet and weather stability of
pots during storage will also be determined.
ARS has granted exclusive license rights to HRI for products developed from
this research. HRI will solicit funds to support the research from nursery
industry companies and, later, will pass on nonexclusive rights to interested
companies. This should speed delivery of the technology to a wide range of