Publication Date


Degree Type

Master of Agriculture


Peat is an expensive, environmentally nonrenewable component of media used to grow woody ornamental trees. Leaf compost from the city of Bowling Green is an inexpensive renewable resource that was substituted for peat in soil-less container media. Seeds of three commercially important tree species, Koelreuteria paniculata (goldenraintree), Quercus alba (white oak), and Magnolia grandiflora (southern magnolia) were grown in 473 mL bottomless milk containers for 150 days, then repotted to 3785 mL pots for 90 days. Media ratios were 1:0, 3:1, 1:1, 1:3, and 0:1 parts commercial media to leaf compost from the Western Kentucky University Agricultural Research Center in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Destructive and nondestructive measurements were made at 90, 150, 210, and 240 days after planting (DAP). K. paniculata root weight, stem weight, leaf weight, leaf number, and stem height was higher at 90 DAP; stem and leaf growth increased at 210 DAP when grown in a media containing compost; thus it may be a good candidate for use in such a system. Q. alba growth was decreased by the addition of compost and does not appear to be a good candidate for proposed media. At 240 DAP, root weight decreased from 4.777g when grown in commercial media compared to 0.997g in leaf compost. Q. alba leaf number also decreased from 8.5 in commercial media to 0.5 with leaf compost. The results from M. grandiflora were mixed, and further classification is necessary. Media samples showed increased soil pH from 6.2 in the commercial mix to 8.5 in pure compost. Elevated pH and its associated availability of anions and cations likely was the greatest factor influencing growth of these trees. Economic analysis demonstrated that significant cost savings to the producer could be achieved by using compost as a media component.


Agriculture | Horticulture