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Michele Krucker, Rita L. Hummel and Craig Cogger

As nursery and greenhouse growers adopt more sustainable production practices, interest has grown in local, recycled organic materials (ROM) as partial or complete substitutes for peat in container substrates. Chrysanthemum ×morifolium Ramat. ‘Shasta’ was grown in substrates formulated from ROM: 1) 100% Groco, an anaerobically digested biosolids composted with sawdust; 2) 100% Tagro, a thermophilically digested class A biosolid mixed with sawdust and sand; 3) 100% dairy compost, the solids screened from dairy manure slurry and then composted; 4) 100% dairy fiber, the solids fraction from an anaerobic dairy manure digester; 5) 50% Groco:50% douglas-fir bark (mixed by volume); 6) 50% Tagro:50% bark; 7) 50% dairy compost:50% bark; 8) 50% dairy fiber:50% bark; and 9) the control, a commercial peat–perlite mixture. Soluble fertilizer [200 mg·L−1 nitrogen (N)] was applied every second day (high N) or every fourth day (low N). Water was applied through capillary mat subirrigation or overhead sprinkler surface irrigation. Surface irrigation and high N produced shoot dry weight, shoot growth index (SGI), quality, and flower bud counts similar to controls in all ROMs but Groco. Groco SGI was similar to the control but the other parameters were lower. Surface-irrigated, low N shoot dry weight, SGI, and flower buds in all ROM equaled or exceeded the control and quality was similar to or better than controls in all but dairy compost:bark. Subirrigated and high N substrate comparisons indicated that growth, quality, and flower bud measurements were similar to the control except for Groco in which performance was reduced. Low N rate subirrigation produced dry weight, SGI, quality, and flower buds similar to or better than the control in all but the Groco and dairy compost:bark substrates. The generally inferior performance in Groco is likely the result of its low water-holding capacity. In substrates with higher available N (Groco, Tagro, Tagro:bark, and dairy fiber), plant growth parameters generally did not respond to doubling the applied N; in the other substrates, including the control, growth generally increased in response to additional N. Measured differences in leaf color across treatments were not large. Root growth of plants in the experimental substrates was similar to the control in both irrigation systems. Substrate effects on leachate nitrate-N were small and inconsistent. When properly constituted, biosolids and dairy manure can be used as substrates under reduced fertilization with both surface and subirrigation systems.