Using Compost and Vermicompost for enrichment of alternative local substrate medium in seedling production of bell pepper.

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Meza-Figueroa, C.A., Gualdron-Linares, and Ramírez-Guerrero, H.O. 2012. Using Compost and Vermicompost for enrichment of alternative local substrate medium in seedling production of bell pepper. SEST. Brasilia, Brazil. Acta Horticulturae (In press).

Supply restrictions, rising costs, and increasing environmental concerns over the use of horticultural substrates like peat moss (P) and coir dust (C) generate the need for alternative, renewable and economical materials. Thus, in this tray experiment, a local made mixture of cedar sawdust (50 %) and treated C (50 %) was evaluated as a substrate for the production of bell pepper seedlings. This alternative local substrate (AS) was enriched with vermicompost produced from cattle manure (V) and rumen compost (RC). Eight different substrates were tested: control P (100 %), AS (100 %), AS + V (3:1, 2:1, 1:1) and AS + RC (3:1, 2:1, 1:1). Various physical and chemical properties of the substrates and seedling indices were measured in order to assess the quality of the nursery-produced plant. Germination and emergence rate of bell pepper seedlings were not affected by the substrate type, contrasting with the velocity of emergence for the seedlings where the highest value occurred with AS and AS + V (2:1). The height of seedlings cultivated in P and AS + RC (3:1, 2:1, 1:1) substrates performed better than in all AS + V substrate mixtures. Although, there were no differences on the total number of leaves, seedlings leaf area (LA) varied with treatments. The largest LA was achieved with AS + RC (3:1 and 1:1). Seedlings established in AS + V (1:1) and AS + RC (3:1 and 2:1) had significantly higher stem diameter than seedlings raised in P and AS. The control P showed the highest top and root dry weights. Despite substrate differences, adobe quality was unaffected by transplant media. The results indicate that addition of RC could improve their properties over AS alone, and lead to improved growth and production of bell pepper seedlings at the tropical conditions studied.