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Bioresour Technol. 2009 Sep;100(18):4227-32. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2009.03.055. Epub 2009 May 5.

Spent mushroom substrates as component of growing media for germination and growth of horticultural plants.

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Department of Agrochemistry and Environment, Miguel Hernandez University, EPS-Orihuela, Ctra. Beniel km. 3.2, 03312 Orihuela (Alicante), Spain.


This research work was conducted in order to investigate the possibility of using spent mushroom substrate (SMS) in the production of horticultural seedlings replacing part of the peat in the growing media. Three vegetable species with different salt sensitivities, the less sensitive being tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum var. Muchamiel), the moderately salt-sensitive being courgette (Cucurbita pepo L. var. Afrodite F1) and the most salt-sensitive being pepper (Capsicum annum L. var. Lamuyo F1) were grown in 12 media containing SMS of two types of mushroom (Agaricus bisporus (SMS-AB) and Pleurotus ostreatus (SMS-PO)) or a mixture of both 50% (v/v) (SMS-50), as well as peat in various ratios. The proportions of each residue in the mixtures elaborated with peat were 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% v/v residue. A substrate of 100% peat was used as control. The experiment was arranged in a completely-randomised design with two replicates per treatment under greenhouse conditions. Prior to sowing, some physical, physico-chemical and chemical properties of the growing media were determined and seed germination and fresh weight of seedling were also measured. In most of the cases, the addition of SMS to the growing media produced an increase in the pH values, salt contents, macro and micronutrient concentrations and a decrease in the water holding capacity contents in comparison to peat, whereas great differences were found in the air capacity values between SMS-based substrates and peat. Up to 75% SMS can be used in mixtures with peat for seed germination of the plant species studied. Regarding the most suitable SMS-based substrates for plant growth, any substrate could be used for tomato seedling production. However, all SMS-AB-based substrates and the media containing low dose of SMS-PO and SMS-50 were adequate for growth of courgette and pepper.

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