Fresh Parboiled Rice Hulls Serve as an Alternative to Perlite in Greenhouse Crop Substrates

in HortScience

Ten substrates were formulated by blending perlite or parboiled fresh rice hulls (PFH) at 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, or 60% (v/v) with sphagnum peat. After 6 weeks, NH4+ concentrations were not significantly different among substrates containing perlite and those containing equivalent amounts of PFH. Nitrate concentrations were significantly higher in the 40% perlite substrate than in the 40% PFH substrate, but there were no significant differences in NO3- concentrations among the remaining substrates containing equivalent amounts of PFH or perlite. When tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) was grown in the substrates for 5 weeks, tissue N concentrations were not significantly different between equivalent perlite and PFH-containing substrates. Non-parboiled fresh rice hulls produced organically contained a higher number of viable weed seeds than non-parboiled fresh rice hulls produced conventionally. No weed seeds germinated in the PFH. `Better Boy' tomato, `Bonanza Yellow' marigold (Tagetes patula L. French M.), `Orbit Cardinal' geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum L.H. Bailey), `Cooler Blush' vinca (Catharanthus roseus L.G. Don), `Dazzler Rose Star' impatiens (Impatiens walleriana Hook. f.), and `Bingo Azure' pansy (Viola ×wittrockiana Gams) were grown in sphagnum peat-based substrates containing perlite or PFH at 10%, 15%, 20%, 25%, 30%, 35%, or 40% (v/v). Dry root weights of vinca and geranium were not significantly different among plants grown in the substrates. Tomato plants grown in 10%, 15%, 25%, 30%, and 35% PFH had significantly higher dry root weights than those grown in equivalent perlite-containing substrates. Impatiens grown in 35% PFH had higher dry root weights than those grown in 35% perlite. Marigold grown in 20% perlite had higher dry root weights than those grown in 20% PFH. However, there were no significant differences in impatiens or marigold dry root weights among the remaining substrates containing equivalent amounts of PFH or perlite. Dry root weights of pansy grown in 10%, 20% 25%, 35%, and 40% perlite were not significantly different from those grown in equivalent PFH-containing substrates. Across substrates, root dry weights of impatiens, marigold, and pansy grown in perlite-containing substrates were not significantly different from those grown in PFH-containing substrates. No significant difference in dry shoot weights of vinca, geranium, impatiens, and marigold occurred between equivalent perlite and PFH-containing substrates. Tomato plants grown in 20% to 40% perlite had significantly higher dry shoot weights than those grown in equivalent PFH-containing substrates. However, dry shoot weights of tomato grown in 10% to 15% perlite were not significantly different from those grown in equivalent PFH-containing substrates. Dry shoot weights of pansy grown in 10%, 25%, 30%, 35%, and 40% perlite were not significantly different from those grown in equivalent PFH substrates.

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