Evaluation of the effects of the weight of zeolite in peat moss-based media and the corresponding shipping logistics of potted plant products
To establish dry and wet weight estimates on various zeolite-peat moss media blends in a range of growing pot sizes, in order to assess the potential impact on shipping and handling of plants..
Zeolite is a naturally occurring mineral, known for its unique chemical and physical properties, which is used in a number of industries and applications. In horticulture, zeolite can be used within growing media in the form of raw granules or granules embedded with plant nutrients. Zeolite has the potential to be blended with peat moss to create a novel growing media with the necessary physical characteristics for ideal plant growth. However, zeolite is a rock mineral which, depending on its concentration in a growing media, could increase the total weight of plants potted in zeolite-containing blends. Increased weight of media has the potential to impact the packaging and shipping of potted plant material, thus requiring a more comprehensive study to understand the extent to which zeolite may impact shipping.
The Niagara College Horticultural & Environmental Sciences Innovation Centre (HESIC) team created multiple zeolite-peat moss blend ratios and determined dry and wet weights of plants potted in several different pots with zeolite-containing media. Through this study, it has been confirmed that an increase of the zeolite content in media increases the overall weight of the media when both dry and wet. When used to fill six-inch container pots, zeolite blended with peat moss at a rate of 25% remained well under the manual heavy lifting boundary set within Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA). It has also been found through this study, that a single-axle truck used to transport a full load of potted greenhouse plants grown in 25% zeolite blended media will not exceed the road limitations set by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO). An important consideration when evaluating commercialization strategy is the likelihood that use of zeolite in growing media will increase the cost of shipping and transportation as weight of the potted product increases.
Funding: The project is being funded in part by the Niagara College-led Greenhouse Technology Network (GTN), through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).