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Open AccessArticle

Promising Composts as Growing Media for the Production of Baby Leaf Lettuce in a Floating System

1
Departamento de Ingeniería Agronómica, Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena, Paseo Alfonso XIII, 48, 30203 Cartagena, Spain
2
Instituto de Biotecnología Vegetal, Edificio I+D+i, Campus Muralla del Mar, 30202 Cartagena, Spain
3
Conservación de Suelos y Agua y Manejo de Residuos Orgánicos, CEBAS-CSIC, Campus de Espinardo, E-30100 Murcia, Spain
4
Departamento de Agroquímica y Medioambiente, Universidad Miguel Hernández, UMH-EPSO, ctra. Beniel Km 3.2, 03312 Orihuela, Spain
5
Department of Horticultural Sciences, University of Bonn Germany, INRES, 53121 Bonn, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agronomy 2020, 10(10), 1540; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10101540
Received: 9 September 2020 / Revised: 27 September 2020 / Accepted: 5 October 2020 / Published: 10 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soilless Culture, Growing Media and Horticultural Plants)
The floating system is a successful strategy for producing baby leaf vegetables. Moreover, compost from agricultural and agri-food industry wastes is an alternative to peat that can be used as a component of growing media in this cultivation system. In this study, we experimented with three composts containing tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.), leek (Allium porrum L.), grape (Vitis vinifera L.), and/or olive (Olea europaea L.) mill cake residues, which were used as the main component (75/25 volume/volume) of three growing media (GM1, GM2 and GM3) to evaluate their effect on the growth and quality of red baby leaf lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.). We used a commercial peat substrate as a control treatment (100% volume) and in mixtures (25% volume) with the composts. The plants were cultivated over two growing cycles, in spring and summer, and harvested twice in each cycle when the plants had four to five leaves. We found that the percentage of seed germination was significantly higher in plants grown in peat than in those grown in compost growing media. The yield was affected by the growing media in the summer cycle, and we obtained the highest value with GM1. Furthermore, the second cut was more productive than the first one for all the growing media in both cycles. The lettuce quality was also affected by the growing media. In general, the total phenolic content and antioxidant capacity in the leaves was higher in plants grown in the compost growing media, particularly in the second cut, but the nitrate content in the leaves was greater in some of the compost treatments compared with the peat treatment. In addition, an in vitro suppressive activity study demonstrated that the interaction between different fungi and bacteria observed through metagenomics analysis could contribute to the effectiveness of the compost in controlling Pythium irregulare. The use of compost as a component of the growing media in the production of baby leaf vegetables in a floating system does not only favor the crop yield and product quality, but also shows suppressive effects against P. irregulare. View Full-Text
Keywords: germination; nitrate content; phenolic content; antioxidant capacity; microbial community germination; nitrate content; phenolic content; antioxidant capacity; microbial community
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MDPI and ACS Style

Giménez, A.; Fernández, J.A.; Pascual, J.A.; Ros, M.; Saez-Tovar, J.; Martinez-Sabater, E.; Gruda, N.S.; Egea-Gilabert, C. Promising Composts as Growing Media for the Production of Baby Leaf Lettuce in a Floating System. Agronomy 2020, 10, 1540. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10101540

AMA Style

Giménez A, Fernández JA, Pascual JA, Ros M, Saez-Tovar J, Martinez-Sabater E, Gruda NS, Egea-Gilabert C. Promising Composts as Growing Media for the Production of Baby Leaf Lettuce in a Floating System. Agronomy. 2020; 10(10):1540. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10101540

Chicago/Turabian Style

Giménez, Almudena; Fernández, Juan A.; Pascual, José A.; Ros, Margarita; Saez-Tovar, José; Martinez-Sabater, Encarnación; Gruda, Nazim S.; Egea-Gilabert, Catalina. 2020. "Promising Composts as Growing Media for the Production of Baby Leaf Lettuce in a Floating System" Agronomy 10, no. 10: 1540. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10101540

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