Results for 2012

Use of textile and organic waste mats for soilless cultivation of greenhouse tomato

The main medium for soilless tomato cultivation is rockwool, whose disposal problem still not fully been resolved. From 1 ha planted tomatoes in the greenhouse as a post-production waste 72 m3rockwool and 5 tons of plastic polyethylene film is produced. Organic substrates as compared to the rockwool are fully biodegradable and after cultivation may be used as fertilizer in field production. Due to growing pressure from the environment protection from greenhouse crop waste research on the development of new biodegradable substrates for soilless cultivation was carried out. The aim of research conducted was to determine the effect of substrates made of textile waste (wool and cotton) supplemented with coconut fiber, sawdust or flax shives on the yield and chemical composition of greenhouse tomato varieties Growdena F1 grown in greenhouse in prolonged cycle. To generate new substrates waste wool and cotton which is produced during the manufacture of various textiles, rigid long coconut and pine sawdust and flax shives was used. With these non-woven materials made by tufting multilayer mat growing in standard dimensions which are of the same rockwool mat. Growing media made from textile waste and organic wool differed from almost all of the studied physical properties as compare to rockwool slabs. Substrate are higher bulk density (bulk density of the standard test substrate was 105 kg/m3, while the rockwool only 62 kg/m3), a lower water content at full saturation (pF 0.0) and greater at higher potentials 1.5 pF and pF 2.0. The porosity of the substrate was only slightly less than the total porosity of the rockwool and was it higher than 90%. Type of respondents mat cultivation had no significant effect on growth, development and yield of tomato plants. Nutritional status of N, K, Ca and Mg in all tested substrates was at a similar level, while the content of P, Fe, Mn, Cu and B was significantly higher in the leaves of plants


Basic greenhouse vegetables in Poland are grown in open soilless system in which an excess of nutrient solution leaking from area of root system is discharged into the ground or drains of greenhouses. Drainage water from the growing slabs is more concentrated than nutrient solution supplied for plants.  The aim of research conducted in the year 2012 was to determine the effect of drainage water from soilless cultivation of tomato and cucumber on the mineral content in shallow groundwater occurring in objects of cultivation and in their neighborhood. Water samples for chemical analyzes were collected at intervals of three weeks from the piezometers located in greenhouses and adjacent areas within 25 and 300 m from the object. The results of chemical analyzes of water indicate an increase in the degree of pollution of the waters of mineral nutrients. Ground water directly under soilless cultivated plants were contaminated almost all mineral nutrients that are in media fertilizers. Significant quantities entering from drainage water to groundwater were noticed for  nitrogen, potassium, calcium and magnesium. Contamination of ground water in the cucumber crop was at a similar level as in tomato cultivation. Mineral content in the groundwater decreased with increasing distance from the objects of cultivation. 


The use of pelletized organic fertilizers and biodegradable organic fleece in field vegetable cultivation

The accumulation and degradation of organic matter are the base processes supporting plants and soil live. In currently developed sustainable growing systems (integrated and organic) combining agricultural activity with environment protection it is assumed that the base nutrients source is organic fertilization applied as a legumes green fertilizer, manure, compost or other organic materials but mineral fertilization is treated as a additional application only.   


The small seeded legumes plants (clover, lucerne) harvested several times a year produce a large green biomass rich in nutrients, nitrogen, potassium, calcium and micronutrients. Dried, grounded and next pelletized  can be used in agricultural production, including organic one. The advantage of those fertilizers is possiblities of using them as a basic and topdress fertilization as well. The use of those fertilizers can limit ground water pollution caused by nutrient leaching from soil profile because the nutrients from organic matter are released slowly in a coarse of a season, in reverse to fast releasing mineral fertilizers.

In the field vegetable production soil mulching is the favourable treatment, which practically eliminate necessity of expensive weed control, enhanced plant yielding, improve soil water conditions and reduce soil erosion. Currently used  synthetic polypropylene fleece  and polyethylene plastic foils as non biodegradable covers are wastes not friendly to environment, because they have to be removed from the field after harvest and than recycled. Present agriculture aimed at environment protection and at the same time preservation of potential production level, is trying to eliminate from growing technologies  the use of materials and means being a threat to environment and food safety. It concerns such non biodegradable materials as fleece and foils.   


In the year of 2012 the usefulness of pelletized organic fertilizers produced from red clover (Ekofert K) and lucerne (Ekofert L) were estimated at the field experiments in celeriac (also in organic production), white cabbage and onion culture. The fertilizers were preplant applied several days before planting and followed on compost incorporation to the soil in the rate of 25 t/ha. Organic plant fertilizers were applied in the rates corresponding to 120, 180 i 240 kg N/ha. Efficiency of organic fertilization was compared to mineral fertilization in the rate of 100 kg N/ha and with control treatment fertilized with compost only.   


In field experiments the usefulness of biodegradable organic fleece, (Covelana), made from textile wastes, and enriched by papilionaceous biomass (Covelana K-clover and Covelana L-lucerne) were estimated in celeriac, cabbage and cucumber growing. Efficiency of fleece applying and influence on yielding, nutrients content in the soil and their availability were determined in comparison with 3 control objects: non mulched control,  non mulched and fertilized with mineral N at the rate of 100 kg N/ha and with the object mulched with fresh cut clover.


The results of field experiments showed that the use of soil ecoativators both soil mulching with biodegradable fleece and organic fertilizers made from N-rich plant biomass (dried clover or lucerne) had favourable impact on vegetable crops yielding (cabbage, celeriac, cucumber, onion). It concerned not only separate treatments of soil mulching and organic fertilization but also combined application of both types of ecoactivators i.e. soil mulching with fleece followed by applying pelleted organic fertilizers. Soil mulching with biodegradable fleece had favourable effect on maintenance  the soil surface free from weeds during whole vegetation period and considerable reduction of labor costs. Moreover application of fleece cover improved soil water conditions by water losses reduction due to limited evaporation therefore effected better water supply to the plants. Also soil thermal conditions were improved by reduction of soil surface temperature fluctuation.

Both types of soil ecoactivators (biodegradable fleece and palletized organic plant fertilizers) can be used in all kind of horticulture production, specially in integrated and organic ones.   


The results for 2013


 The use of biodegradable soil eco-activators for vegetable crops production


In 2013 the usefulness of organic biodegradable and pelletized organic fertilizers Ekofert K, Ekofert L produced from biomass of red clover and lucerne for vegetable production was studied in the field experiments. Fertilizers were applied in dosages equivalent to 120, 180 and 240 kg N/ha. The usefulness of both fertilizers and organic fleeces Covelana K and Covelana L were estimated in celeriac, cabbage and cucumber cultivation. Efficiency of these organic ecoactivators (Ekofert K, Ekofert L, Covelana K and Covelana L) and their influence on crops yield, nutrients content and availability in the soil were determined in comparison with control objects as: non mulched control,  non-mulched and fertilized with mineral N at the rate of 100 kg N/ha and for fleece also with the objects mulched with fresh red clover or lucerne biomass. Organic fertilizers (Ekofert K i Ekofert L) applied in cabbage, celeriac and onion cultivation, even in the lowest dosage of 120 kg N/ha, secured the crops yield on the level achieved with mineral fertilization of  100 kg N/ha. The higher rates of organic fertilizers contributed to further yield increase, depended on crop species and fertilizer rate. The influence of fertilizers on plants yielding was higher in 2013 than in 2012.

Soil mulching with organic fleece (Covelana K and Covelana L) had positive effect on cabbage and celeriac yield compared to noncovered control. In 2012 the higher yield increase was obtained in celeriac cultivation (24% ) than in cabbage (6%), but contrary to 2013 when celeriac yield increase was 53% and cabbage 82%. For the celeriac crop in 2012 and both crops in 2013 it came up to the yield achieved with mineral fertilization of 100 kg N/ha. Soil mulching with organic agro-fleece Covelana (K and L) significantly reduced weed population within hole growing period. Fresh red clover and lucerne mulch considerably limited weeds problem, particularly in several weeks after planting, but not eliminated necessity of crop weeding in further weeks of plant growth.

The results of field experiments showed that the use both of soil activators, biodegradable fleeces Covelanas (K and L) and organic fertilizers Ekoferts (K and L), had favourable impact on vegetable crops yielding. It concerned not only separate treatments of soil mulching and using organic fertilizers but also combine use both types of ecoactivators, i.e. mulching with biodegradable fleeces just after preplant application of palletized organic fertilizers. Supplementary favourable effect of biodegradable fleeces application was preservation the soil surface free from weeds  for whole vegetation period and considerable reduction of labour costs that have to be spend for weed control. Additional favourable effect resulted from soil mulching with organic fleece was reduction of water losses caused by limited evaporation what influenced proper soil humidity for plant development. Soil thermal conditions were improved also as an effect of lower temperature fluctuation on soil surface.

In greenhouse experiments the effect of newly developed organic substrates  on the yield and chemical composition of tomato grown in soilless system was studied. Total and marketable yield of tomatoes was similar to comparable substrates.









Monitoring the field and soilless cultivations


Water samples for chemical analyzes were collected at intervals of three weeks from the piezometers located in greenhouses and adjacent areas within 25 and 300 m from the object.  The results of chemical analyzes of water indicated an increase of pollution in ground water with mineral nutrients. Groundwater directly under soilless cultivated plants were contaminated almost in all mineral nutrients present in fertilizers solution. Groundwater contain a significant quantities of nitrogen, potassium, calcium and magnesium. Contamination of ground water in the cucumber crop was at a similar level as in tomato cultivation. Mineral content in the groundwater decreased with increasing distance from the objects of cultivation.

In field experiments the content of the minerals in soil solution and their allocation in soil profile were controlled near to once a month. Soil solution was sucked up from depth of 30 and 60 cm in onion and from 30, 60, 90 cm in cabbage cultivation and also in celeriac cultivation in 2013. At the same time, for all crops, soil samples were taken from the horizons of 0-30 cm and 30-60 cm and from the 60 – 90 cm after harvest. Soil samples were analyzed for macronutrients content. Soil humidity was constantly controlled.

In spite of slow and constant nutrients release from all applied eco-activators (organic fertilizers and organic fleeces) in crops of long season and high nutrient demands (cabbage and celeriac) the nutrient uptake was very efficient and practically the content of easy leaching nutrients (N and K) did not increase in subsoil horizons (30-90 cm). After cabbage and celeriac harvest average nitrogen content, at soil horizon of 60-90 cm, was only 5 – 11  mg N-NO3 mg/dm3,  and almost equal to natural soil richness. In such crops the risk  of nutrient leaching and contamination of subsoil layers is limited. In onion cultivation  the nutrient content in subsoil horizon (30-60 cm) was 2-3 times higher than for cabbage and celeriac. This difference was an effect of shallow onion root system and shorter growing period. Thus after such type of crops the cultivation of intercrops should be considered to secure uptake of nutrients released from organic matter late in the season and prevent their migration in soil profile.

The measurement equipment were placed in the greenhouse with new substrates too. The analysis showed that under soilless cultures the pollution of ground water has risen.




The results for 2014


Usefulness of new fertilizers in cultivation of onion, celeriac and white cabbage

Palleted organic fertilizers Ekofert K and Ekofert L applied at the rates of 120 – 240 kg N/ha in cultivation of celeriac and white cabbage significally influenced yielding of both species in 2014 like in previous years. Fertilizers used at the rate of 120 kg N/ha secured the marketable field of two species at the level obtained for 100 kg N/ha of mineral fertilization. The rise in the rate to 180 i 240 kg N/ha of Ekofert K in celeriac cultivation contributed further significant increase of celeriac marketable yield (in the range of 21 – 30%) and average weight of marketable tuber. But increase in Ekofert rate to 180 and 240 kg N/ha in white cabbage cultivation had no influence on marketable yield of the heads. Relatively highest marketable yield of white cabbage was obtained for highest fertilizer rate (240 kg N/ha), but it was not significant difference compared to the lowest rate (120 kg N/ha). Similarly dependences concerned average weight of marketable head. Applied organic fertilizers Ekofert affected marketable yield structure of both species. The share of heavier weight cabbage heads and celeriac tuber in marketable yield rose and decreased share of lighter weight ones.


The use of new biodegradable fleeces in celeriac and white cabbage cultivation

In 2014 soil mulching with biodegradable organic fleece Covelana K had favourable influence on plant development and yield of celeriac however efficiency of that treatment was higher than in two last years. The use of organic fleece enriched with high-nitrogen content plant matter (Covelana K) secured field of the roots at such level as achieved by mineral fertilization at the rate of 100 kg N/ha (33 t/ha) and to little extent influenced marketable yield structure decreasing by 4% the share of large roots (13-15 cm). The strongest growth and the highest tuber yield was achieved for the objects mulched with fresh harvested red clover (52 t/ha). Increase in tuber yield compared to control not mulched objects was 185% and to mineraly nitrogen fertilized 61%.  Also the structure of marketable yield changed very much because the share of medium size tubers decreased (49%) and considerably increased the share of large and very large tubers (45% and 6% respectively). Mulching with Covelana K effectively prevented to overgrown with weeds during whole vegetation period however mulching with fresh red clover reduced weeds population in time of few weeks after treatment but later on it was necessary to make hand weed control and additional mulching. Those results are confirmation of effects achieved in the years 2012-2013.

The yield of cabbage achieved in 2014 was higher than two years before, but mostly because of the use of other variety in cultivation (Adaptor F1) characterized by longer vegetation period (130-135 days) compared to applied earlier  variety Candela F1 (120 days). Compared to average yield value of Candela F1 variety the yield of Adaptor F1was 44,6 % higher and also average head weight - 51 %. The impact of soil covering on development and yield of white cabbage was similar to 2012 but weaker than in 2013. Compared to not covered control object marketable yield increase resulted from mulching with Covelana L amounted to 16% and such increase was obtained for average weight of marketable heads. In comparison to mineral fertilization at the rate of 100 kg N/ha mulching with Covelana L decreased marketable yield by 16% and average head weight by 22% like in 2012. Increase of the yield and average head weight was achieved only in 2013. As  in previous years also in 2014 the highest impact on development and yield of white cabbage was achieved for mulching with fresh matter of lucerne where yield increase of marketable heads compared to control not fertilized object and to mineral fertilization at the rate of 100 kg N/ha was 80% and 25% respectively. Mulching with fresh lucerne increased marketable yield by 56% compared to mulching with Covelana L.

Like in celeriac cultivation mulching with Covelana L eliminated weeds problem in whole vegetation period however soil covering with fresh lucerne during first few weeks of cultivation only. Later on it was necessary to arrange hand weed control and supply freshly harvested mulch.


Combined application of organic fertilizers and biodegradable fleeces in celeriac and cucumber cultivation

Assessing  the results achieved in 2014 it can assert that otherwise as 2 years before no significant positive influence of soil covering with biodegradable fleece produced from textile wastes on the growth and the yield of celeriac was obtained. Microbiological decomposition of organic matter of standard fleece caused biological bond of soil nitrogen and its lower availability for the plants. Addition of dry plant matter rich in nitrogen (red clover and lucerne) to Covelana K and Colelana L fleeces reduced nitrogen loses resulted from its biological mineralization thereby preventing yield decrease. Considerably favourable influence on the growth and plant yielding had soil fertilization with Ekofert K and L applied in the rates of 60 and 120 kg N/ha before planting and soil covering with Covelana fleeces. Higher fertilizer rate (120 kg N/ha) secured better yielding of cultivated plants. In 2014 no visible favourable effect of keeping soil surface free of weeds during whole vegetation period as a result of biodegradable fleeces application was affirmed. Fields with more weeds such Galinsoga parviflora species overgrown much more in suitable conditions secured by fleeces. The weeds strongly overgrown through the fleeces were difficult to remove without risk of fleece damage and often stayed till the end of vegetation season. Field with more weeds limited development of celeriac and reduced yield differences compared to not covered objects occasionally weeded.

The impact of the eco-activators on nutrient leaching in the soil


Results of soil analysis in 2014, like in previous years, has shown changes in nutrient availability within onion, cabbage and celeriac growth, depending on fertilization treatments. At the beginning of onion growth, 5 weeks after  organic fertilizers incorporation into soil and onion planting, the nitrate nitrogen content in topsoil horizon (0 -30 cm) was the highest (28 – 40 mg N-NO3/l) in all objects, compare to later terms of soil analysis, and then decreased along with plant growth and nutrients uptake by the plants. Considerable decrease (50 %) in N-NO3content in topsoil horizon  was detected after next 4 and 8 weeks of plant growth. The lowest N-NO3 content was found at non-fertilized control objects. In the mineral fertilized objects and fertilized with organic fertilizers was higher and depended on applied rate. N-NO3 content in the soil increased with the increasing of fertilizers rates. At the end of onion growth and after harvest 15 to 27 mg N-NO3/L was affirmed in top soil horizon.














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