Effect of different substrates for organic agriculture in seedling development of traditional species of Solanaceae

Maria Olaria, Jose F. Nebot, Hector Molina, Pilar Troncho, Leonor Lapeña, Eugenio Llorens


Sowing of seedlings is one of the most critical processes on the establishment of a crop, since the future development of the plant depends largely on its health when is planted on the field. Moreover, organic agriculture has to deal with the low application of fertilizers and pesticides, which hinder the growth of seedlings. In this work, we studied the big influence of different mixtures of substrates suitable for organic agriculture based on peat, coconut husk and vermicompost in traditional varieties of tomato, pepper and eggplant. Our results indicate that the use of coconut husk based substrates in organic agriculture can reduce the growth of seedlings between 20 and 30% compared with peat-based substrates. Moreover, the plants growth in this substrate showed lower levels of chlorophyll and lower weight, but the results are strongly dependent on the species tested. Comparison between traditional plants demonstrates that traditional varieties are strongly influenced by the substrate, whereas the growth of a commercial variety of tomato barely differs when different substrates are used. The election of the substrate in organic agriculture is critical to the correct development of the plant, especially when traditional plant varieties are used.


vermicompost; coconut husk; tomato; eggplant; pepper.

Full Text:



Abad M, Noguera P, Carrión C, 2004. Los sustratos en los cultivos sin suelo. In: Tratado de cultivo sin suelo; Urrestarazu M (ed.). pp: 113-158. Mundi Prensa, Madrid.

Abad M, Fornes F, Carrión C, Noguera V, Noguera P, Maquieira A, Puchades R, 2005. Physical properties of various coconut coir dusts compared to peat. HortScience 40 (7): 2138-2144.

Arenas M, Vavrina CS, Cornell JA, Hanlon EA, Hochmuth GJ, 2002. Coir as an alternative to peat in media for tomato transplantp. HortScience 37(2): 309-312.

Belda RM, Mendoza-Hernández D, Fornes F, 2013. Nutrient-rich compost versus nutrient-poor vermicompost as growth media for ornamental-plant production. J Plant Nutr Soil Sci 176 (6): 827-835. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jpln.201200325

Bradford MM, 1976. A rapid and sensitive method for the quantitation of microgram quantities of protein utilizing the principle of protein-dye binding. Anal Biochem 72 (1–2): 248-254. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0003-2697(76)90527-3

Bunt AC, 1988. Media and mixes for container-grown plants: A manual on the preparation and use of growing media for pot plants. Academic Division, Unwin Hyman Ltd, London. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-94-011-7904-1

Carneiro JGA, 1995. Produção e controle de qualidade de mudas florestais. Curitiba, UFPR/FUPEF, 451 pp.

Carmello C, 1995. Nutrição e adubação de mudas hortícolas. In: Produção de mudas de alta qualidade em horticultura; Minami K (ed.). pp: 27-37. TA Queiroz, São Paulo:

Drinkwater LE, Letourneau DK, Workneh F, van Bruggen AHC, Shennan C, 1995. Fundamental differences between conventional and organic tomato agroecosystems in California. Ecol Appl 5 (4): 1098-112. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2269357

EC, 1992. Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora 26 April 2004 [Lex - 31992L0043].

Edwards CA, Neuhauser EF, 1988. Earthworms in waste and environmental management. SPB Academic Publ.

Edwards CA, Arancon NQ, Sherman RL, 2010. Vermiculture technology: earthworms, organic wastes, and environmental management. CRC Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1201/b10453

Evans MR, Konduru S, Stamps RH, 1996. Source variation in physical and chemical properties of coconut coir dust. HortScience 31 (6): 965-967.

Filella I, Serrano L, Serra J, Peñuelas J, 1995. Evaluating wheat nitrogen status with canopy reflectance indices and discriminant analysis. Crop Sci 35 (5): 1400-1405. http://dx.doi.org/10.2135/cropsci1995.0011183X003500050023x

Florez J, 2009. Agricultura ecológica. Manual y guía didáctica. Mundi prensa, Madrid.

Hemeda HM, Klein BP, 1990. Effects of Naturally occurring antioxidants on peroxidase activity of vegetable extracts. J Food Sci 55 (1): 184-185. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2621.1990.tb06048.x

Inden H, Torres A, 2004. Comparison of four substrates on the growth and quality of tomatoes. Acta Hort 644: 205-210. http://dx.doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.2004.644.27

Kreuger J, Peterson M, Lundgren E, 1999. Agricultural inputs of pesticide residues to stream and pond sediments in a small catchment in southern Sweden. B Environ Contam Tox 62 (1): 55-62. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s001289900841

Lemaire F, 1995. Physical, chemical and biological properties of growing medium. Acta Hort 396: 273-284. http://dx.doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.1995.396.33

Leskovar DI, Cantliffe DJ, Stoffella PJ, 1991. Growth and yield of tomato plants in response to age of transplants. J Am Soc Hort Sci 116 (3): 416-420.

Merzlyak MN, Gitelson AA, Chivkunova OB, Rakitin VYU, 1999. Non-destructive optical detection of pigment changes during leaf senescence and fruit ripening. Physiol Plantarum 106 (1): 135-141. http://dx.doi.org/10.1034/j.1399-3054.1999.106119.x

Minami K, 1995. Fisiologia da produção de mudas. São Paulo: T.A. Queiroz, 129 pp.

Moran JA, Mitchell AK, Goodmanson G, Stockburger KA, 2000. Differentiation among effects of nitrogen fertilization treatments on conifer seedlings by foliar reflectance: A comparison of methods. Tree Physiol 20 (16): 1113-1120. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/treephys/20.16.1113

Murphy KM, Campbell KG, Lyon SR, Jones SS, 2007. Evidence of varietal adaptation to organic farming systems. Field Crops Res 102 (3): 172-177. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fcr.2007.03.011

Nahar K, Gretzmacher R, 2011. Response of shoot and root development of seven tomato cultivars in hydroponic system under water stress. Acad J Plant Sci 4: 57-63. http://www.idosi.org/ajps/4%282%2911/6.pdf

Orozco FH, Cegarra J, Trujillo LM, Roig A, 1996. Vermicomposting of coffee pulp using the earthworm Eisenia fetida: Effects on C and N contents and the availability of nutrients. Biol Fert Soils 22 (1-2): 162-166. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF00384449

Osman AS, Rady MM, 2014. Effect of humic acid as an additive to growing media to enhance the production of eggplant and tomato transplants. J Hort Sci Biotech 89 (3): 237-244.

Peñuelas J, Filella I, 1998. Visible and near-infrared reflectance techniques for diagnosing plant physiological status. Trends in Plant Sci 3 (4): 151-156. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1360-1385(98)01213-8

Reganold JP, Glover JD, Andrews PK, Hinman HR, 2001. Sustainability of three apple production systems. Nature 410 (6831): 926-930. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/35073574

Sahm H, Sanders J, Nieberg H, Behrens G, Kuhnert H, Strohm R, Hamm U, 2013. Reversion from organic to conventional agriculture: A review. Renew Agric Food Sys 28 (03): 263-275. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1742170512000117

Stoate C, Boatman ND, Borralho RJ, Rio Carvalho C, de Snoo GR, Eden P, 2001. Ecological impacts of arable intensification in Europe. J Environ Manag 63 (4): 337-365. http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/jema.2001.0473

Urrestarazu M, Guillén C, Mazuela PC, Carrasco G, 2008. Wetting agent effect on physical properties of new and reused rockwool and coconut coir waste. Sci Hortic 116 (1): 104-108. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scienta.2007.10.030

Zaller JG, 2007. Vermicompost as a substitute for peat in potting media: Effects on germination, biomass allocation, yields and fruit quality of three tomato varieties. Sci Hortic 112 (2): 191-199. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scienta.2006.12.023

DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2016141-8013