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  • Author or Editor: Leigh Whittinghill x
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Space availability is one of the largest barriers to urban agriculture. One way around this issue that urban farmers in some parts of the world are exploring is moving their farming activities to building rooftops. One method of rooftop farming in use is row agriculture using green roof technology. Vegetable crop plants, which typically require more water and more nutrients than the ornamental species found on green roofs, require irrigation and the use of fertilizers. One nutrient management practice that some rooftop farmers are using is the addition of compost, which could lead to changes over time in the water-holding capacity, organic matter content, and weight of green roof media. This practice and its long-term implications have not been well-studied. Green roof platforms were created to examine how the annual additions of compost in quantities of 0, 0.33, 0.66, and 1 kg/m2 affect runoff water quality and green roof media properties. Runoff water samples were collected and analyzed for pH, conductivity, color, turbidity, and nitrate nitrogen, ammonia nitrogen, total phosphorus, and potassium contents. Compost treatment had no effect on any water quality metric except for color, which had slightly different changes over time in the different compost treatments. The lack of difference among the treatments may be attributed to the low nutrient content of the compost and continued use of fertilizers to provide nutrients. Most samples observed in this study exceeded the US Environmental Protection Agency water quality guidelines for nitrate nitrogen and phosphorus and were similar to values observed in the green roof literature regarding agricultural and ornamental green roofs. This has potential implications for surface water quality and eutrophication, especially as green roof agriculture increases.

Open Access

Given the current urbanization context and rising interest in green roof systems, growing a high-value crop such as saffron crocus in green roof medium could be an opportunity to use the benefits of both the crop and the green roof system; the drainage, aeration, and sand-like texture of green roof media make it suited for saffron production, and the saffron market price could make green roof production commercially viable. Various factors, including plant diseases and planting depth, could affect saffron production. Therefore, this research was conducted to evaluate the effects of planting depth and biofungicide treatments using Bacillus subtilis on saffron production in a green roof system. A completely randomized factorial block design was used with planting depth (10 cm and 15 cm) and B. subtilis strain QST 713 biofungicide treatments (an untreated control, 15.6 × 109 cfu/L, and 31.2 × 109 cfu/L) as independent variables. In 2019, fresh flower yield, fresh stigma yield, and dry stigma yield were calculated during harvesting, and additional data on flower number, tepal length and width, stigma length, and harvest time were collected in 2020. All variables were analyzed using analysis of variance (ANOVA) with planting depth and biofungicide treatments as fixed effects using R. Fresh stigma yield and dry stigma yield were higher in the 10-cm planting depth in 2019. Results were opposite in 2020: flower number, fresh flower yield, fresh stigma yield, dry stigma yield, and harvest time were higher in the 15-cm planting depth than the 10-cm planting depth. B. subtilis treatments did not affect any studied variable in 2020, but in 2019, the higher level of fungicide treatment resulted in lower fresh flower yield and dry stigma yield. There was no effect of biofungicide treatment and planting depth on tepal length, tepal width, and stigma length in both years. This study showed that growing saffron crocus on green roofs is feasible and even resulted in higher yield than field production in many saffron-producing regions and countries. In addition, results indicated that shallow planting might be suitable for annual production, whereas deeper planting could be ideal for perennial production based on the objective. Our findings demonstrated the feasibility of saffron production in the green roof system and suggest further research to develop best management practices.

Open Access