Growth, Nutrient Uptake, and Foliar Gas Exchange in Pepper Cultured with Un-composted Fresh Spent Mushroom Residue
Spent mushroom substrate (SMS) can be used as the component of growing medium for the culture of crop plants. Fresh SMS may have the potential as an alternative to peat to raise horticultural plants. In this study, five container media characterized by the proportions of SMS to commercial peat in 0% (control), 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% were used to raise pepper (Capsicum annum L.) plants. Initial SMS was found to have low available nitrogen (N) content (<20 mg kg-1) but moderate extractable phosphorus (P) content (900 mg kg-1). In the second month photosynthetic rate was found to decline in the 75% treatment. At harvest in the third month, plants in the 100% treatment nearly died out. The 25% treatment resulted in the highest height (19 cm) and diameter growth (0.3 cm), shoot (0.6 g) and root biomass accumulation (0.13 g), fruit weight (3 g), and shoot carbohydrate content (98 mg g-1), but lowest foliar acid phosphatase activity (30 µg NPP g-1 FW min-1). With the increase of SMS proportion in the substrate, the medium pH and electrical conductance (EC) increased with the decrease of foliar size. The available N and P contents in the substrates showed contrasting relationship with N and P contents in pepper plants. Therefore, fresh SMS cannot be directly used as the substrate for the culture of pepper plants. According to our findings fresh SMS was recommended to be mixed in the proportion of 25% with commercial peat for the culture of horticultural plants.
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