Leguminous crops have been used for numerous centuries as a food source for animals and humans (Brink and Belay, 2006). These vines are native from the Americas but they are now cultivated all over the world as a result of their high nutritional and gastronomic value. In fact, they contain high quantities of protein, vitamins (i.e., thiamine, pyridoxine, and folic acid), complex carbohydrates (i.e., starch), dietary fiber, and minerals such as Fe, Ca, P, Se, and Mo. They are also low in Na and calories (Valdez-Perez et al., 2011).
These legumes are so vital for human nutrition that ≈12 million metric tons of Phaseolus vulgaris are consumed every year worldwide. Moreover, in 2014, the United States produced more than 86,700 t of kidney beans alone. In fact, every day, ≈14% of the U.S. population eats dry comestible beans. Legumes are a crucial part of food security across the world, especially in many developing countries. Thus, ≈400 million people in the tropics eat beans as part of their daily diet. Legumes also provide income for millions of individuals, typically in Latin America and Africa.
The growth of leguminous crops would require appropriate quantities of nutrients for their optimal development; otherwise, physiological deficiency signs might occur (Takahashi, 1981). Currently, the main trend is to use organic fertilizers for vegetable growth and development. However, the heterogeneity of the physical and chemical characteristics of the different organic fertilizers may give rise to different crop yields. Interestingly, legumes are known to be N fixers because they take N from the atmosphere by demand and release it into the soil, fulfilling their own N needs. This implies the need for an organic fertilizer that delivers low levels of N accordingly (Aminul et al., 2016). For this reason, the intense use of chemical fertilizers for plant development is not prudent because it causes depletion of beneficial soil microbiota and the potential pollution of soil and water (Derkowska et al., 2015).
Currently, organic fertilizers derived from manure, worm castings, peat, and poultry guano have been used to attain efficient organic crop production of several plant species (Aluko et al., 2014). They increase the organic matter and microorganism activity, and improve porosity, water retention, and ion exchange capabilities of the soil (Esmaeilzadeh and Gholamalizadeh, 2014). They also prevent root burning or destruction of soil microflora because they contain amino acids, organic matter, and a variety of micronutrients that replenish the nutrient level of the soil, and they nourish important soil microorganisms (Ghimire, 2002). For instance, the application of vermicompost in soil decreases root decomposition of beans and produces vigorous plants (Leon et al., 2006).
Sonolysis is an emerging technology defined as the science and technology of applying sound waves with frequencies above human hearing ability, essentially from 20 to 100 kHz. Usually, these power ultrasounds have an intensity of more than 1 W·m–2, making them effective for hydrolysis of a wide range of complex molecules, including carbohydrates and proteins with a high molecular weight and long chain length (Mahvi, 2009). Therefore, this technology is easily adaptable in diverse fields and could be applied for hydrolysis of shrimp waste. Thus, bubbles form, expand, and contract inside the waste particles in a process called cavitation. Ultrasound eventually ruptures the bubbles, damaging the particles. As a result, particles are broken down into shorter and more nutritious compounds assimilable by plants.
Currently, the global annual production of shrimp is nearly 4.8 million metric tons, generating almost half this weight in waste mainly in the coastlines were they are farmed. This issue is more striking in world regions such as Southeast Asia (39.8%), China (28.3%), and India (12%), who are the main players in trade and consumption (Anderson et al., 2017). Shrimp waste, in turn, is composed of chitin, which forms microfibrillar arrangements embedded in a protein matrix coupled with CaCO3. A green alternative for the use of this waste material is its transformation it into an organic fertilizer using controllable ultrasonic hydrolysis. The search for new SBFs is important in coast sites because of the limited availability of manure and compost in these regions. In turn, the economic and rapid sonication processes ensure the development of an organic fertilizer achieving a high degree of sustainability using these methods. Currently, there is no information regarding the organic cultivation of legumes in soils amended with SBFs.
The two main objectives of the current study were 1) to identify the effect of ultrasound-assisted hydrolysis on the nutritional and microbial content of SBFs, and 2) to assess the development of legumes treated with these fertilizers under greenhouse conditions following an organic production. Fertility and substrate management in organic greenhouse production is important in short-term crops and low-fertility soils. The development of organic fertilizers containing specific nutrients could improve crop management of legumes produced organically in container production systems.
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