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ISSN : 1598-5504(Print)
ISSN : 2383-8272(Online)
Journal of Agriculture & Life Science Vol.52 No.5 pp.1-10
DOI : https://doi.org/10.14397/jals.2018.52.5.1

Effects of Corrugated Cardboard-based Media on the Physicochemical Properties and Coverage of Plant

Jong-Soo Jo1,Si Young Ha2,3,Ji Young Jung2,3,Jae-Kyung Yang2,3*
1Department of Interior Materials Engineering, Gyeongnam National University of Science and Technology, Jinju, 52725, Korea
2Division of Environmental Forest Science, Gyeongsang National University, Jinju, 52828, Korea
3Institute of Agriculture & Life Science, Gyeongsang National University, Jinju, 52828, Korea
*Corresponding author: Jae-Kyung Yang
Tel: +82-55-772-1862
Fax: +82-55-772-1869
January 12, 2018 January 31, 2018 February 8, 2018

Abstract


The physical and chemical properties of corrugated cardboard-based media were evaluated to assess their suitability as substrates for plants. Samples were collected periodically from the same study area over 5 months to determine any seasonal variabilities. In addition to the corrugated cardboard-based media, the rural soil of the study area was used as the control. The corrugated cardboard-based media showed adequate levels of moisture content and bulk density and correspondingly high porosity values when compared with the rural soil. All corrugated cardboard-based media showed adequate levels of electrical conductivity, organic matter, and correspondingly high cation exchange capacity values when compared with the rural soil in all seasons. The C/N ratio of the corrugated cardboard-based media was similar to the optimal values of 15-20. However, the pH values of the corrugated cardboard-based media were lower than the optimum value(pH 4) for plant growth and rural soil. The moisture content value which cycle bobs up and down according to sampling date, and this means that the moisture content is affected by seasonal changes in the components entering the study area. The corrugated cardboard-based media appear to be acceptable for growing plants(Lotus corniculatus var. japonicus). Finally, the use of this media permits better vegetation establishment than the use of rural soil. Our results prove that corrugated cardboard-based media can exhibit higher plant cover over a long period(September-November) as opposed to rural soil. Our study demonstrates the effectiveness of corrugated cardboard-based media for plant growth, and we recommend that future studies should focus on potential materials relevant to revegetation and management.



초록


    Introduction

    In Republic of Korea, the domestic corrugated cardboard industry has been steadily growing with the increase in national economy. Domestic corrugated cardboard production has increased by 2.8% per annum from 2005 to 2010 because of an increase in domestic sales, and it was 4,083,851 tons as of 2010(Korea Paper Association, 2009). When domestic paper production is compared, corrugated cardboard is confirmed that 39.9% among newsprint paper, and printing paper share(Jang & Youn, 2001). In addition, corrugated cardboard consumption steadily increased to 159 kg per capita per person in 2000, and its usage is expected to increase gradually with the increase in national income. The consumption of corrugated cardboard is increasing not only in Korea but also overseas. Talbi et al.(2009) reported that corrugated cardboard is widely used in the packaging industry because of its lightness, recyclability, and low cost, and the use of this material is increasing continuously every year. However, the problems of corrugated cardboard waste disposal are concerning because of the continuous increase in corrugated board production and consumption. Park et al.(2004) predicted that the amount of corrugated cardboard waste will continue to increase as the volume and consumption of corrugated board increase and the economy grows. Therefore, studies on the uses of corrugated cardboard waste are being performed. In particular, there is interest in the recycling of corrugated cardboard waste because of concerns about the environment and severe environmental regulations; recycled corrugated cardboard accounts for more than 40% of the total paper production.

    However, recycled corrugated cardboard has limitations such as dewaterability and strength reduction, and it even increases the unit cost because of the addition of strength aids to the corrugated cardboard(Ji et al., 1999). In addition, the recycled corrugated cardboard is composed of poor-quality fibers, as it is subjected to repetitive papermaking and fibrillation processes, and its use is limited to the number of recycled fibers(Seo et al., 1999). Wrapping paper manufactured using corrugated cardboard wastes has shown reduced physical characteristics, reduced intense characteristics, and residues of contamination(Lim et al., 2013). Corrugated cardboard waste is difficult to use as packaging material for heavy metals because of the possibility of inflow of heavy metals and harmful substances caused by mixing foreign of recycling processes(Ko et al., 2010). As a result, many researchers are analyzing the applications of recycling corrugated cardboard, and one application is its use for plant growth. Corrugated fiberboard, the most widely used distribution container material, represents more than 80% of the volume of all paper-based packaging materials(Rhim et al., 2007). Eom & Park (2007) have reported the development of multipurpose seed paper from waste paper, and Vigneault et al.(2009) reported that many plant containers are manufactured from corrugated cardboard. However, corrugated fiberboard containers are not suitable for the long-term growth of plants because of their hygroscopic properties; they act as poor barriers to water and water vapor and reduce the shelf life of the plants(Larotonda et al., 2003; Despond et al., 2005).Therefore, this study aims to develop media with improved physical properties by having proper moisture content and porosity for plant growth. In addition, not only the physical properties but also the chemical properties such as organic matter content were improved to plant growth. We are expanding the field of recycling by using cardboard waste paper for media development by the comprehensives.

    The objectives of this work were (1) to introduce corrugated cardboard as an alternative media for plant coverage, and (2) to take a further step on the research about physical and chemical properties of media for plant based on corrugated cardboard.

    Materials and Methods

    1 Corrugated cardboard-based media preparation

    The media was prepared by mixing the basic materials, such as peat, perlite, and steam treated wood meal(Quercus mongolica), with the additives of corrugated containerboard(3:1:3:3(w/w/w/w)). The raw materials used in this study included commercial peat, classified as brown peat(pH 3.5-4.5, Satis International Co., Ltd. LA FLORA, Europe), and commercial perlite(particle size 2 mm; Landscape Architecture Co., Ltd., Korea). The wood chip and corrugated containerboard were collected by Gyeongsang National University, Jinju-si, Gyeongsangnam-do, republic of Korea. The wood chip was steam treated at 1.5 kgf/cm2 and 225℃ for 5 min(Jung et al., 2015). The recycled paper of 605 g was disintegrated for 10 min at the recycled paper/water ratio of 1/20. The peat and steam-treated wood chip were sieved to separate the particles below 2 mm. The media were prepared by mixing three raw materials(peat, perlite, and steam treated wood meal) with corrugated cardboard and were used after air drying for 48 h.

    2 Study area

    The study was conducted from July to November 2015 on the 1673 Gajwa-dong, Jinju-si, Gyeongsangnam- do, republic of Korea. The study area has a slope(40°) with a low peak and is characterized by its sharp borders with adjacent lowlands. The study area was 2 m × 3 m and bring a surface to a level for apply of media. The field area rural soil was used to control for evaluation the effect of corrugated cardboard-based media. The media were applied to 1 m × 1 m, respectively and the three replicates. Each sample was made by mixing five subsamples taken from five points in the field area. Samples were placed in polyethylene bags and transferred to the laboratory the same day. The result was 5 samples taken at different times from applied media that were put together in three different seasons as shown in Table 1. A Lotus corniculatus var. japonicus, purchased from the nearest possible regional source, was sown at 100 g per point for test about plant growth of media.

    3 Physical properties analyses

    The moisture content was established using Medina et al.(2009) method and oven drying to constant weight at 105±5℃ for 12 h. The bulk density was measured using the core method(Blake & Hartge, 1986). A metallic core of 5 cm inner diameter and 5 cm height was inserted into the packed pots to take out the undisturbed samples of media. The samples were dried in an oven at 105℃ for 24 h or till the weight of samples became constant. The ratio of the oven-dry weight of the sample in the core and the internal volume of metallic core was expressed as bulk density. The porosity of the media was calculated by the following equation: (1 - Bulk density / Particle density) × 100(Atiyeh et al., 2001).

    4 Chemical properties analyses

    The pH and electrical conductivity(EC) were reacted in water extracts of all samples(sample : distilled water ratio of 1:5), and measured using an pH meter(HI8418, HANNA, USA) and EC meter (LQ2-LE, Vernier, China), respectively(European Standard 13037, 1999). The organic matter of the samples were determined by a muffle furnace(TMF- 3200, TOKYO RIKAKIKAI, Japan) at 550℃ according to ISO 1171-1981. The C and N concentrations were analyzed by Kjeldahl digestion(Bremner & Mulvaney, 1982) using macro elemental analyzer(vario MACRO cube, USA). The cation-exchange capacity(CEC) was determined with 1 M ammonium acetate at pH = 7 (Soil Conservation Service, USDA, 1972). Samples were analyzed directly with no sample preparation other than drying and fine grinding.

    5 Plant cover

    Plant cover data was calculated using an image taken by a Pentax K-R camera designed to calculate plant cover. Exposure and aperture mode as well as the white balance were set to automatic. We collected images once a month from July to November and then calculated plant cover using Adobe Photoshop CS5. The proportional values for the plant cover were calculated using the following formula:

    Plant cover ( % ) = Green color area ( in ) surface area ( in ) × 100

    Since the plant cover is expressed as a proportional value, we refer hereafter to this as greenness or percentage greenness for clarity.

    6 Statistical analysis

    Data were analyzed using SAS statistical software comparing data means to Duncan's test. Duncan's multiple comparison range test was used to determine significant differences between the means. The measurements were carried out for three replicates, and values are an average of the three replicates. The results are expressed as mean values±standard deviation(SD) for three replicates.

    Results and Discussion

    1 Effects of corrugated cardboard-based media on physical properties

    The moisture content of the media varied with the season throughout the year, and it tended to decrease after summer(July and August; Fig. 1). The reason was assumed to be the high temperatures during the summer season(from 20.2℃ to 29.7℃), and we suggest the need for appropriate water supply to maintain hydration in summer. The bulk densities of the corrugated cardboard-based media ranged between 0.1 and 0.2 g/cm3 and were within the ideal bulk density(below 0.4 g/cm3) of the media used for plant growth(Abad et al., 2002). The bulk densities of rural soil ranged between 0.9 and 1.2 g/cm3 and were higher than those of corrugated cardboardbased media (0.1 and 0.2 g/cm3) and ideal bulk density(below 0.4 g/cm3). Bengough & Young(1993) observed only 65% root growth with the high bulk-density medium. Letey(1958) suggested that the effect of increased bulk density was to decrease oxygen supply. The porosity of corrugated cardboardbased media showed a higher porosity than the rural soil even though it showed a tendency to decrease with sampling date. In addition, high bulk-density values have the disadvantage of increasing transportation costs(Corti et al., 1998), and the uptake of water and nutrients may become limited because roots have difficulty penetrating the media(Stirzaker et al., 1996). Therefore, corrugated cardboard-based media are suitable for water retentivity and plant growth in rural soils. The porosity of all the corrugated cardboard-based media was significantly higher than that of the rural soil and corrugated cardboard-based media collected in July, and the porosity of the corrugated cardboard-based media collected in July was close to the ideal range(>85%)(De boodt & Verdonck, 1972). The result suggests possibly adverse effects on water retention because of limited oxygen availability and gas exchange in the substrates with high growth media proportions(Benito et al., 2005). Lemaire(1995) reported that the high porosity allows air and water to be maintained in the media. Therefore, the enhancement of water retention in these corrugated cardboard-based media seems to be related to the effects of improved porosity in the corrugated cardboard. Porosity is closely related to bulk density. Low bulk density has the advantage of increasing porosity(Corti et al., 1998). Consequently, rural soil was assumed to represent a low porosity caused high bulk density value. Table 2

    2 Effects of corrugated cardboard-based media on chemical properties

    The average values of organic matter were 57% for corrugated cardboard-based media and 5.8% for rural soil(Fig. 2). Abad et al.(2001) stated that organic matter values above 80% should be adequate for media. The organic matter of corrugated cardboardbased media collected in July was relatively suitable when compared with that of other media. All media had slightly different organic matter values, and significantly decreased values were found between seasonal means. These results suggest that the organic matter was either used for plant growth or lost by rainwater. Table 3 shows the main chemical properties of the different samples of corrugated cardboard-based media and rural soil. The pH value was lower than 4 in the corrugated cardboard-based media and far from the optimal pH range for plant growth(5.2-6.3; Bunt, 1988). Thus, the cardboard-based media should be mixed with other materials when used for plants sensitive to acidic conditions. The media for plant growth should have low salinity because roots develop directly in them(Benito et al., 2006). The EC values were below the established limit(0.5 dS/m) for an ideal medium(Abad et al., 2001). The average value for the five corrugated cardboard-based media was 0.24 dS/m and ranged from 0.22 to 0.5 dS/m. The EC values followed the following sequence: corrugated cardboard-based media collected in July < August < September < October and coincided with the changing seasons. Significant differences(p<0.05) were observed between the means of the corrugated cardboard-based media formed in different seasons, probably because of the differential leaching of soluble salts due to seasonal precipitation. This result was consistent with the findings of Benito et al.(2006). The C/N ratio varied between 16.2 and 21.3 for the corrugated cardboard-based media and 0.7 and 1.0 for the rural soil. According to Rosen et al.(1993), a C/N ratio between 15 and 20 is ideal for ready-to-use media for plant growth. A value of C/N around 18.3, the average value for the corrugated cardboard-based media, was more suitable for plant growth than the average value(0.86) for the rural soil. The CEC value for the corrugated cardboard-based media collected in October was high for all the media and always significantly higher than that for the rural soil in all seasons. The toxicity of the metals within media with high CEC is generally low, even at high total metal concentration(Roane & Pepper, 2000). Therefore, it was presumed that the corrugated cardboard-based media was more effective for plant growth than the rural soil.

    3 Effects of corrugated cardboard-based media on plant cover

    The percentage of plant cover within the media varied in our plant cover experiment(Fig. 3). The plants did not die-back completely during the rainy period(August) and thermophilic period(July-September). The plants grown in the corrugated cardboard-based media showed to be effective for early growth than those grown in the rural soil. Although the rural soil had the highest plant cover in August, the corrugated cardboard-based media had much higher plant cover in September-November. Therefore, the corrugated cardboard-based media has long-term advantages for plant growth.

    The amount of corrugated cardboard waste will continue to increase as the volume and consumption of corrugated board increase and the economy grows. Thus, in this study, we evaluated the effects of corrugated cardboard-based media on plant growth on the basis of physical, chemical, and plant coverage changes. We confirmed that the corrugated cardboardbased media influenced the stable physicochemical properties and plant cover density. With respect to corrugated cardboard-based media properties, pH values were lower than the optimum range(pH 4) and significantly lower than the pH of the rural soil. This means that the corrugated cardboard-based media should be mixed with other materials when used for plants sensitive to acidic conditions. The physicochemical properties(moisture content, bulk density, porosity, EC, organic matter, C/N ratio, and CEC) of the corrugated cardboard-based media were similar to the optimal values; in contrast, the physicochemical properties of the rural soil were far from the optimal values for plant growth. Thus, the use of the media permits better vegetation establishment than rural soil. The media were collected periodically from the same study area over 5 months to determine any seasonal variabilities. For the corrugated cardboard-based media, the physicochemical properties(moisture content, organic matter, EC, C/N ratio, and CEC) remained stable during the rainy season(August) and thermophilic period(July-September). These facts prove that the corrugated cardboard-based media can better promote revegetation over a long period(July-November) than rural soil. Thus, corrugated cardboard-based media have numerous advantages and can be used instead of rural soil for plant growth. Our study demonstrates the effectiveness of corrugated cardboard-based media for systematic revegetation on damaged forest slopes, and we recommend that future studies should focus on potential materials.

    Acknowledgement

    This work was supported by Gyeongnam National University of Science and Technology Grant in 2017.

    Figure

    JALS-52-1_F1.gif

    Moisture content of corrugated cardboard-based media and rural soil according to sampling date. A: corrugated cardboard-based media; B: Rural soil. Significant differences between sampling date within corrugated cardboard-based media and rural soil respectively are indicated with different alphabets at p<0.05.

    JALS-52-1_F2.gif

    Organic matter of corrugated cardboard-based media and rural soil according to sampling date. A: Corrugated cardboard-based media; B: Rural soil. Significant differences between sampling date within corrugated cardboard-based media and rural soil respectively are indicated with different alphabets at p<0.05.

    JALS-52-1_F3.gif

    Plant coverage of corrugated cardboard-based media and rural soil according to sampling date.

    Table

    Identification of samples classified according to applied date of applied media

    Physical properties of corrugated cardboard-based media and rural soil according to sampling date

    Chemical properties of corrugated cardboard-based media and rural soil according to sampling date

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