Special Issue "Advances in Soilless Substrate Science for Modern Plant Production Systems"

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Horticultural and Floricultural Crops".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 28 February 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. William Carl Fonteno III
Guest Editor
Department of Horticultural Science, NC State University, Raleigh, NC 27697-7609, USA
Interests: Growing media; physical properties; plant-soil-water relationships
Dr. Jean-Charles Michel

Guest Editor
Research Unit EPHOR Physical Environment of Horticultural Plants, L’INSTITUT AGRO, EPHor, 2 rue Le Nôtre, 49045 ANGERS, FRANCE
Interests: Growing media; soilless culture; physical properties; soil-water relationships; substrates wettability, water repellency and hydrology
Dr. Brian Eugene Jackson
Guest Editor
Department of Horticultural Science, NC State University, Raleigh, NC 27697-7609, USA
Interests: Wood substrates; Bark substrates; Engineering raw materials; Substrate particle dynamics; Substrate Hydrology; Container plant root growth; Substrate analytical methods

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Advancements in soilless plant systems are occurring rapidly today. Innovations and new science make this one of the fastest-growing sectors in agriculture worldwide. The reasons for this are many: less arable land for food production; increased emphasis on locally produced crops; more traditional field-grown crops being produced in soilless systems; higher demand for more sustainable plant production practices; reduction of pollutants and emerging environmental and economic advantages to producing plants in containers. These advances in plant production practices have spurred the need for more research in these areas.

In addition, the concerns for increased food safety and local food security have accelerated the development and adoption of urban growing systems, container gardening, green roof systems, and vertical farming technologies, and other systems that utilize soilless substrates will continue to drive the demand for new and improved products with enhanced performance well into the future.

Once thought to be only relevant for greenhouse and nursery ornamental production, soilless substrates now are being used in consumable plant production including vegetables, herbs, leafy greens, soft fruit, and Cannabis. Creative thinking and proactive product development have yielded some remarkable advancements in plant production and thriving plant functioning systems. This issue is intended to highlight topics within these crucial scientific initiatives.

This Special Issue will focus on recent advances in the development, formulation, characterization, and utilization of traditional and novel soilless substrate materials (growing media other than mineral soils in situ) used in plant production systems and enclosed planting areas. We welcome high-quality novel research and reviews covering all related topics in soilless substrate science, including new and emerging components, substrate engineering and formulation, substrate characterization and analytical techniques, substrate hydrology and physical properties, water capture and management, chemical and phytotoxicological properties, reducing water and nutrient runoff, biological additives and microbial influences, advancement of technologies such as green roofs, vertical farms, and vertical gardening substrates, as well as other closely related research areas within soilless substrates.

*This special issue is open for submission on 21 August 2020*

Dr. William Carl Fonteno III
Dr. Jean-Charles Michel
Dr. Brian Eugene Jackson
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Agronomy is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Novel organic and inorganic substrate materials
  • Substrate sustainability and climate change
  • Carbon footprint and life cycle analysis
  • Organic component processing and engineering
  • Availability and use of substrates in the future
  • Substrate analysis and characterization
  • Image analysis and tomographic technologies
  • Substrate particle dynamics
  • Substrate pH and chemistry
  • Substrate stability and biodegradation
  • Substrates for large containers and long-term crops
  • Substrate hydrological properties
  • Water use efficiency
  • Surfactant usage in substrates
  • Root growth and root architecture development in soilless container systems
  • Post-production shelf-life improvements in container crops
  • Propagation substrates
  • Soft fruit production in soilless systems
  • Cannabis production in soilless systems
  • Retail and consumer substrates
  • Additives and biostimulants for soilless substrates
  • Biological and microbial influences
  • Wood fiber production and utilization
  • Peat use and sustainability
  • Advances in compost utilization in substrates
  • Advances in biochar production and utilization in substrates
  • Urban gardens, green roof, and vertical farming systems

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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