Composts from Various Municipal Solid Waste Feedstocks Affect Vegetable Crops. I. Emergence and Seedling Growth

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Texas A&M Research and Extension Center, Rt. 2, Box 1, Stephenville, TX 76401
  • | 2 Indian River Research and Extension Center, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, 2199 South Rock Road, Ft. Pierce, FL 34945
  • | 3 Soil and Water Science Department, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 106 Newell Hall, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-0510

The composition of composts derived from municipal solid wastes can affect emergence and seedling growth. Composts consisting of biosolids and yard trimmings [standard compost (SC)] alone or with mixed waste paper (MWP), refuse-derived fuel (RDF), or refuse-derived fuel residuals (RDFR) were evaluated in seedling trays and pots for vegetable crop seedling emergence and growth. In trays, tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.), cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.), and pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) seedlings emerged faster from a commercial peat-lite mix and from sandy field soil than from the composts. Plants were tallest and shoots were generally heaviest in the peat-lite mix and aged SC and smallest in the field soil. MWP compost generally inhibited early seedling growth more than RDF or RDFR composts. Among the composts, seedlings were tallest and heaviest in SC. In pots, growth of each vegetable was generally greatest in SC, followed by other composts, and lowest in sandy soil. Tomato and pepper seedling emergence was more sensitive to the inhibitory effects of the RDF, RDFR, and MWP composts than cucumber seedling emergence. Fertilizer increased plant growth in each medium except SC, in which cucumber stem diameter was not increased. Adding MWP, RDF, or RDFR to SC generally decreased seedling emergence and growth. The composts prolonged days to emergence and decreased percent emerged seedlings. However, subsequent seedling growth in composts was equal to or greater than seedlings in the peat-lite mix and much greater than those in the sandy field soil.

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