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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Houma, Louisiana » Sugarcane Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #323870

Title: Vegetable seedling production with sugarcane bagasse ash

item White, Paul

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/5/2016
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The eleven sugarcane mills in Louisiana processed 380,000 ac and 12.8 million tons of harvested sugarcane in 2014, producing 1.5 million tons of raw sugar (brown sugar), and an estimated 3 million tons of the fibrous plant residue called bagasse. Bagasse is the fibrous material remaining after removing the sugar, water, and other impurities from the sugarcane delivered to the mill. Typically, Louisiana sugarcane mills use a portion of the sugarcane bagasse for fuel producing over 22,500 tons of sugarcane bagasse ash as a by-product. Sugarcane mill owners, operators, and associated researchers have investigated and employed various uses for the sugarcane bagasse ash. Research was conducted to investigate the use of SBA as an amendment to soilless planting media for the production of vegetable seedlings. The ash was combined by volume with a commercial soilless growing media into 5 combinations (0%:100%, 25%:75%, 50%:50%, 75%:25%, and 100%:0%, sugarcane bagasse ash and growing media, respectively). Squash (Cucurbita pepo L.) var. ‘Straightneck’ and cantaloupe (Cucumis melo L.) var. ‘Magnum Hybrid Melon’ were planted in each of the 5 different planting mixtures with 4 replications and each experiment repeated twice. The results indicate that the addition of the ash enhanced squash and cantaloupe seedling growth, depending on the percentage of the ash added to the growth media. Squash plant stalk lengths and plant total fresh weights (stalk, leaves, tops, roots, and total plant) overall responded best at the 75% ash levels. Squash dry weights were consistently greater for all treatments where ash was added to the growth media compared to adding no ash. The 25% and 50% ash media produced the greatest cantaloupe leaf fresh weights. Cantaloupe leaf dry weights followed a similar trend, where the 25% and 50% ash media produced greater plant weights with lesser yields compared to the 75% and 100% ash media. This data suggests that the 75% and 25% ash growth media were suitable potting media combinations for squash and cantaloupe seedling production, respectively. Future research should investigate the addition of starter fertilizers to the sugarcane bagasse ash amended media to further enhance the growth of squash and cantaloupe seedlings. Additional plant species should also be evaluated for their response to sugarcane bagasse ash amended growth media.