Composted Poultry Litter as Potting Media does not Affect Transplant Nitrogen Content or Final Crop Yield

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  • 1 Assistant professor, Department of Agronomy and Soils, Auburn University, AL 36849.
  • | 2 Associate professor, Department of Horticulture, Auburn University, AL 36849.
  • | 3 Assistant professor, Department of Horticulture, Auburn University, AL 36849.

The use of composted waste materials as an alternative source of potting media has received much interest in recent years. Our objective was to incorporate composted, ground poultry litter into a standard greenhouse potting mix, and evaluate the effect of the poultry litter on vegetable transplants grown in the greenhouse and transplanted to the field. Treatments consisted of potting mixes of 100% potting media or 50/50 media/poultry litter. Collards (Brassica oleracea L. var. acephala DC.), broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica Plenck.), cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. var. capitata L.) and three tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) cultivars were utilized as test crops. A nutrient solution treatment of 8 oz of 8N-11P-7K fertilizer or 8 oz of water was added when transplants were set in the field. Plant weight and nitrogen content were measured weekly during the greenhouse production stage, and final crop yield was recorded at harvest. Any effect from the inclusion of poultry litter in the potting media on cole crop (collards, broccoli, cabbage) transplant dry weight had disappeared by the fourth week of sampling in the greenhouse, and final yield of cole crops was unaffected by either type of potting mix or presence or absence of starter nutrient solution. Dry weight of tomato transplants was not affected by type of potting media. Differences in tomato yield due to type of potting mix were observed, as plots with transplants grown in the 50/50 mix had greater nonmarketable yields (`Bonnie' and `Big Boy'). Yield of `Big Boy' tomato was increased by the addition of starter nutrient solution. It appears that composted, uniformly prepared waste materials are suitable for production of vegetable transplants.

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