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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Corvallis, Oregon » Horticultural Crops Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #332780

Title: Effects of substrate type on plant growth and nitrogen and nitrate concentration in spinach

item BARCELOS, CARINA - University Of Evora
item MACHADO, RUI - University Of Evora
item ALVES-PEREIRA, ISABEL - University Of Evora
item FERREIRA, RUI - University Of Evora
item Bryla, David

Submitted to: International Journal of Plant Biology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/25/2016
Publication Date: 11/8/2016
Citation: Barcelos, C., Machado, R.M., Alves-Pereira, I., Ferreira, R., Bryla, D.R. 2016. Effects of substrate type on plant growth and nitrogen and nitrate concentration in spinach. International Journal of Plant Biology. 7(1):44-47. doi: 10.4081/pb.2016.6325.

Interpretive Summary: The use of substrates and soilless culture systems for production of horticultural crops is increasing worldwide. Substrates often increase plant growth and yield in many crops, reduce the incidence of soil-borne diseases, and, when combined with collection of drainage water, increase the efficiency of water and nutrient use. Despite these many benefits, there is currently very little information available concerning the influence of substrate type on plant growth and nutrient uptake in many crops, including leafy vegetables. The objective of this study was to evaluate the influence of different substrate types on plant growth and nutrition of spinach. The substrates included peat, a composted peat mix, and coir. Black peat produced the most growth and the greenest plants among the substrates and, therefore, was the best choice for growing spinach in soilless culture.

Technical Abstract: The effects of three commercial substrates (a mixture of forest residues, composted grape husks, and white peat; black peat; and coir) on plant growth and nitrogen (N) and nitrate (NO3) concentration and content were evaluated in spinach (Spinacia oleracea L. cv. Tapir). Spinach seedlings were transplanted at 45 days after emergence into Styrofoam boxes filled with the substrates and were grown during winter and early spring in an unheated greenhouse with no supplemental lighting. Each planting box was irrigated daily by drip and fertigated with a complete nutrient solution. The NO3 content of the drainage water was lower in coir than in the other substrates. However, shoot NO3 concentration was not affected by substrate type, while yield and total shoot N and NO3 content were greater when plants were grown in peat than in the mixed substrate or the coir. Leaf chlorophyll meter readings provided a good indication of the amount of N in the plants and increased linearly with total shoot N.