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Chandrappa Gangaiah*, Edward E. Carey and Ned A. Tisserat

Compost teas, made using an aerated brewing process, have been reported to have potential for controlling a range of plant diseases and improving crop health. Septoria leaf spot of tomato, caused by the fungus Septoria lycopersici, is a common and destructive disease of tomato in Kansas. A field trial was conducted at Wichita, Kansas during Summer 2003 to evaluate the potential of pre-plant compost, and compost tea applied as a foliar spray or through drip fertigation, to control Septoria leaf spot of tomato. The experimental design included three factors: Pre-plant application of 13N-13P-13K or vermicompost; fertigation with CaNO3 or compost tea; and foliar spray with compost tea, fungicide (Dithane) or water. A split plot design was used with fertigation treatments as main plots and the other two factors as sub-plots. There were 3 replications. Tomato cultivar Merced was used and individual plots consisted of 5 plants grown on beds covered with red plastic mulch and supported by stake and weave system. Aerated compost tea was brewed weekly using a vermicompost-based recipe including alfalfa pellets, molasses, humic acid, fish emulsion and yucca extract and applied to plots starting 2 weeks after transplanting. Disease incidence and severity were recorded weekly for 3 weeks following the appearance of disease. Plots were harvested twice weekly and counts of No. 1, No 2 and cull grade tomatoes were recorded. There were no effects of pre-plant or fertigation treatments on Septoria leaf spot disease, but there was a significant effect due to foliar sprays, with mean severity of compost-tea-sprayed plots (26.3%) and fungicide-sprayed plots (31.9%) significantly lower than water-sprayed plots (45.9%) at trial termination.

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Chandrappa Gangaiah, Amjad Ahmad, Hue V. Nguyen, Koon-Hui Wang and Theodore J.K. Radovich

The application of locally available invasive algae biomass as a fertilizer for crop production in Hawaii is being investigated as a substitute for imported chemical fertilizers. Three closely related greenhouse trials were conducted to determine if the algae served as a source of potassium (K) on growth, yield, and K mineral nutrition in pak choi (Brassica rapa, Chinensis group). In the first trial, three algal species (Gracilaria salicornia, Kappaphycus alvarezii, and Eucheuma denticulatum) were applied at five rates of K, each to evaluate their effects on growth and K nutrition of pak choi plants. The pak choi was direct seeded into 0.0027-m3 pots containing peatmoss-based growth media. In trial 2, pak choi was grown in peat media at six rates of K provided by algae (E. denticulatum) or by potassium nitrate (KNO3). In trial 3, the six rates of K were provided through algae (K. alvarezii), KNO3, and potassium chloride (KCl) and were compared for growth and K nutrition. Results from the first greenhouse trial showed no significant differences among the three algal species in yield or tissue K content of pak choi. However, plant yield and tissue K concentration were increased with application rates. The maximum yield and tissue K were observed when K was provided within the range of 250–300 kg·ha−1. Similarly, in Expts. 2 and 3, there were no significant differences between commercial K fertilizers and algal K species for yield. Only K rates were significant for yields and tissue K concentrations. It was concluded that K in the invasive algae was similarly available as K in commercial synthetic fertilizers for pak choi growth in terms of yield and tissue K content under our experimental conditions.