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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Houma, Louisiana » Sugarcane Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #340106

Title: Sugarcane boiler ash as an amendment for soilless growing media

item Webber Iii, Charles
item White, Paul
item Spaunhorst, Douglas
item Petrie, Eric
item Landrum, Derek

Submitted to: American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/30/2017
Publication Date: 6/14/2017
Citation: Webber III, C.L., White Jr, P.M., Spaunhorst, D.J., Petrie, E.C., Landrum, D.S. 2017. Sugarcane boiler ash as an amendment for soilless growing media [abstract]. Journal of the American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists. 37:50.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: In 2016, research was conducted to investigate the use of sugarcane bagasse ash (SBA) as an amendment to soilless planting media for the production of vegetable seedlings. Typically, the eleven Louisiana sugarcane mills use a portion of the sugarcane bagasse for fuel, producing over 60,000 tons of SBA annually. Bagasse is the fibrous by-product remaining after removing the sugar, water, and other impurities from the sugarcane delivered to the mill. The experiment involved combining the SBA by volume with a commercial organic soilless growing media into 5 combinations (0%:100%, 25%:75%, 50%:50%, 75%:25%, and 100%:0%, SBA and growing media, respectively). Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) var. ‘Bowie’ and Chinese kale (Brassica alboglabra) var. ‘South Sea’ were planted in each of the 5 different planting mixtures with 4 replications. The results indicate that the addition of 25% ash significantly increased bean emergence and establishment, while 50% ash increased total fresh and dry weights of kale seedlings without decreasing kale seedling establishment. As the ash percentage increased from 25% to 100%, many of bean growth parameters decreased (plant height and establishment, leaf, stalk, and total plant weight). Bean plant establishment was the most severely impacted by increasing ash content, decreasing plant stands from a high of 76% at 25% ash to 40% establishment at 100% ash content. Kale plant parameters also tended to decrease as ash content increased above 25% and 50%. The research demonstrated the feasibility of substituting 25 to 50% SBA in a standard greenhouse growing medium for bean and kale seedling production.