Ontario horticulture researchers continue to demonstrate the impact of RootSmart, a tree propagation tray that uses air pruning to promote healthier root structures in seedlings.
A.M.A. Horticulture launched the RootSmart innovation at the Landscape Ontario Congress in 2018. Now one year later, ongoing field trials at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre continue to show that the propagation tray is having real impact on better root distribution and tree establishment.
“We grew tree seedlings in different propagation trays, including RootSmart, and planted them into the field to monitor their establishment over five seasons,” says Darby McGrath, Research Scientist at Vineland. “In late 2018, we dug up the trees and found that the RootSmart tray produced fewer root defects and promoted healthy 360° root distribution and a more fibrous root ball.”
RootSmart was developed by scientists at Vineland in partnership with A.M.A. to help prevent defects, including circling, ascending and diving roots. Defects often occur during propagation when roots come into contact with the walls of a growing container or tray, and they cannot be reversed later in a tree’s life. RootSmart’s wall-less, bottomless design enables tree roots to grow laterally without obstruction, simulating a natural growing environment.
“When you plant a young tree, you expect it to live for decades,” says Rick Bradt, Managing Director, A.M.A. “But often you start to see signs of root defects during the first five years of growth, such as trunk rot, leaf decay or root circling. This will eventually kill the tree, costing significant time and money for growers, municipalities and homeowners.”
“We are proud to deliver a science-based solution to help our customers grow healthier trees,” continues Bradt. “RootSmart is more than a cutting-edge propagation tray. It’s a promise to our customers that A.M.A. is committed to horticultural excellence.”
The Vineland team continues to analyze the results of its ongoing field trial with plans to publish findings later in 2019.