Who Invented Air-Root-Pruning?
the response from Carl Whitcomb PhD, Lacebark Inc. Stillwater, OK & Inventor of the RootMaker Product Line:
Who invented the air-root-pruning and other root branching procedures is an interesting question.
When I arrived at Iowa State University in 1964, one of the challenges was to decide what subject / area to study for an MS and PhD. The University catalog in describing the requirements for the PhD said simply --- The student shall make a significant contribution to the knowledge in the field. --- Sounds simple enough, but, unless you know what knowledge already exists in the field, how will you know if you made a contribution? So, lots of hours in the University Library. There was nothing there about air-pruning or other methods of stimulating root branching at that time and I have followed the literature in the area closely since that time and until I began publishing early studies on the subject, nothing had been published.
One sure way to find out if an idea or invention is truly new is to file for a patent. Examiners in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are detail oriented and relentless to find if something had previously been in a patent or even referenced in a patent and if so, your application is rejected.
I have USA Patents on containers that stimulate root branching using air-root-pruning, root tip trapping and constriction pruning. In none of these cases have rejections been raised based on previously published findings in the area or previously patented inventions.
So, to say with absolute certainty that no one had thought of or studied this phenomenon in years prior to my involvement, that cannot be done. But it is highly unlikely based on the extensive research I have done, both in person and by following the published scientific literature. Plus, the detailed scrutiny of my various inventions in this subject area by the US patent office, yet the fact that all patents applied for were issued, seems firm confirmation.
That is my best answer to the question -- Carl Whitcomb