AgBioResearch scientist cultivates improved sustainability practices for tree growers

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MSU AgBioResearch, Bert CreggAgBioResearch scientist Bert Cregg is helping tree growers make their operations more sustainable simply by improving their management of nutrients.

Cregg, an associate professor of horticulture and forestry, is growing several types of conifer and shade trees at his pot-in-pot research nursery. The trees are planted in pots filled with a mix of pine bark and peat moss that is much lighter than soil—a feature that consumers like, he said.

Placing the pots are into pots in the ground prevents the trees from falling over in strong winds. The ground also helps protect the roots during the winter.

The pot-in-pot production system also enables the trees to be sold as living Christmas trees during the holiday season.

“You can pretty well envision if this had a few lights and a few bulbs on it that it might be something you could have in an office, on a countertop or table, or in an apartment,” Cregg said.

Cregg is also conducting research on trees that compares runoff of nutrients from conventional fertilizers to that from organic fertilizers. In excess, runoff containing nutrients not taken up by the trees may become an environmental pollutant.

“So do we get less nitrate running off with an organic source versus a conventional one, or maybe it doesn’t matter? We’ll know that from the results of this research,” Cregg said.

Photo: MSU AgBioResearch scientist, Bert Cregg

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