Optimization of biosolids as a substrate for quality tomato transplant production

Abstract: 
Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) is an important fruit vegetable crop for human health and nutrition as well as for income generation. The quality of the transplant affects the overall quality and yield of the crop. However, poor soil conditions greatly affect growth of the seedlings. The objective of the study was to determine effect of biosolids from sewage treatment on quality of tomato transplant. This study was conducted at Egerton University, Njoro, Kenya using tomato variety ‘Maxim F1’. The experimental design was randomized complete block design (RCBD) replicated four times. Treatments were biosolids mixed with forest soil at 0% (forest soil), 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50% and 60% (v/v), tea compost and coco peat. Growing media was evaluated for physic-chemical properties while seedlings were evaluated for leaf number, plant height, collar diameter, root volume, and chlorophyll content, root and shoot dry matter content. Biosolid applied in moderate levels (30%) helped to improve the physic-chemical properties (bulk density, moisture content, organic matter, pH, N, P, K, and Mg contents) of the growing media. Seedlings grown using biosolid at 30% had more leaves than forest soil, biosolid at 60% and coco peat. Using biosolid at 30% resulted in taller seedlings than forest soil, biosolid at 40% and coco peat. Application of biosolid at 30% resulted in seedlings with thicker stems compared with all the other growing media. Biosolid at 30% and tea compost had the highest root volume while soil, biosolid at 10% and coco peat had the lowest root volume. Using biosolid at 30% resulted in higher leaf chlorophyll content than all the other growing media. The study demonstrates that using biosolid at 30% proved to be the best for tomato transplant production. Root dry weight was highest in tea compost and biosolid applied at 20, 30, 40 and 50%, while control and coco peat had the lowest root dry weight. Shoot dry weight was the highest in tea compost and biosolid applied at 30% while control and coco peat had the lowest shoot dry weight. This was attributed to more available nutrients in the biosolid hence better seedling physiological development as observed by higher leaf chlorophyll content. Results of this study suggest that 30% of biosolids in forest soil can be customized for their effective improvement on growth and quality of tomato transplants.
Language: 
Date of publication: 
2018
Country: 
Region Focus: 
East Africa
Volume: 
17
Number: 
1
Pagination: 
557-563
Collection: 
RUFORUM Working document series
Licence conditions: 
Open Access
Access restriction: 
Form: 
Web resource
ISSN: 
1607-9345
E_ISSN: 
Edition: 
Extent: 
7