Water is a main point of research in the Horticultural Substrates Laboratory at North Carolina State University pertaining to its capture, retention, and availability within soilless substrates during the production of container-grown crops.

While all of these criteria are relevant, water retention and availability wouldn’t be pressing topics without water first being captured by the substrate during irrigation events.

Recent work on substrate hydrological evaluations includes the wettability and water capture of peat, coconut coir, aged pine bark and various engineered wood products. In this article, we will discuss some recent data from an experiment that included sphagnum peat moss, coconut coir, and pine bark undergoing irrigation testing to understand each substrate’s capture limitations based on the pre-set moisture levels, aka “preconditioning”.