Biocontainer water use in short-term greenhouse crop production

Andrew Koeser, Sarah T. Lovell, Michael Evans, J. Ryan Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, biocontainers have been marketed as sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based containers in the green industry. However, biocontainers constructed with plant materials that are highly porous in nature (e. g., peat, wood fiber, straw) tend to require more frequent irrigation than conventional plastic products. As irrigation water sources become less abundant and more expensive, growers must consider water consumption in any assessment of their economic and environmental viability. This project evaluated plant growth and total water consumption for nine different biocontainers (seven organic alternatives, and two recently developed bioplastic alternatives) and a plastic control used to produce a short-term greenhouse crop, 'Yellow Madness' petunia (Petunia ×hybrida). Dry shoot weight and total water consumption differed by container type, with some of the more porous containers (wood fiber, manure, and straw) requiring more water and producing smaller plants by the end of the trial period. Intuitively, the more impervious plastic, bioplastic, and solid rice hull containers required the least irrigation to maintain soil moisture levels, though shoot dry weights varied among this group. Shoot dry weight was highest with the bioplastic sleeve and slotted rice hull containers. However, the latter of these two containers required a greater volume of water to stay above the drying threshold. Findings from this research suggest the new bioplastic sleeve may be a promising alternative to conventional plastic containers given the current production process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-219
Number of pages5
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Petunia ×hybrida
  • Pots
  • Sustainability
  • Total water use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Horticulture


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