Organic Fertilizers in Horticulture

A special issue of Horticulturae (ISSN 2311-7524). This special issue belongs to the section "Plant Nutrition".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 20 August 2024 | Viewed by 9624

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Guest Editor
Department of Soil, Plant and Food Sciences, University of Bari, Via Amendola 165/A, 70126 Bari, Italy
Interests: soil fertility; waste management; nutrient management; soil chemistry; fertilizers; organic matter; environmental science; contaminants of emerging concern; soil pollutions; tillage and organic management
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Dipartimento di Scienze del Suolo, della Pianta e degli Alimenti, University of Bari, Via Amendola 165/A, 70126 Bari, Italy
Interests: composting; soil fertility; organic farming; fertilizers; heavy metal pollution; soil organic matter; nutrient management; waste management; bioaccumulation of heavy metals; soil quality; waste treatment; sludge treatment; environmental science

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Guest Editor
Central Laboratory for Environmental Quality Monitoring (CLEQM), National Water Research Center (NWRC), Cairo 13621, Egypt
Interests: pollution; heavy metals; soil fertility; sustainability; wastes and wastewater management; phytotoxicity; environmental risk assessement; composting; water quality; sustainable agriculture; plant nutrition; soil and water conservation; carbon sequestration

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Guest Editor
College of Agronomy and Biotechnology, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China
Interests: sustainable agriculture; soil fertility; plant nutrition; nutrient management; nutrient cycling; C, N, P isotopes; microplastics
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Modern horticulture depends heavily on the external supply of mineral nutrients in the form of synthetic fertilizers, derived from extracted resources. The massive use of synthetic fertilizers has for several years been associated with a vision of agricultural modernization aimed at drastically increasing food production to alleviate hunger globally. The attempt to "industrialize" agricultural systems, in particular horticultural production, has entailed a very high cost for the environment, and human health, as well as a degradation of planetary conditions. In this non-reassuring scenario, both solid and liquid organic fertilizers can act as a transition element toward sustainable low-input agriculture. On the one hand, they improve the chemical-physical and biological properties of the soil ensuring better horticultural productions. On the other hand, they require microbial degradation processes to mineralize the nutritional content and are therefore characterized as slow-release fertilizers. However, organic fertilizers can also be a potential source of environmental pollution. There is growing evidence that organic fertilizers can have high concentrations of trace metals such as Cr, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Cd and Pb, contaminants of emerging concern or microplastics. Furthermore, the use of organic fertilizers in open fields or greenhouses could be integrated with new precision farming practices to ensure a stable and economically sufficient yield. The Special Issue is open to manuscripts that aim to share any knowledge on the use of organic fertilizers in horticulture to improve food production and environmental sustainability.

Dr. Francesco De Mastro
Dr. Gennaro Brunetti
Dr. Karam Farrag
Dr. Huadong Zang
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • organic farming
  • sustainable horticulture
  • greenhouse horticulture
  • precision farming
  • compost
  • biochar
  • soil pollutions
  • contaminants of emerging concern
  • microplastics
  • heavy metals
  • waste management
  • soil quality

Published Papers (7 papers)

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12 pages, 2633 KiB  
Article
Exploring the Feasibility of Integrating Weed and Nitrogen Management with Seed Meals in Organic Vegetables
by Allison Butterfield and Sam E. Wortman
Horticulturae 2024, 10(1), 75; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae10010075 - 11 Jan 2024
Viewed by 840
Abstract
Corn gluten meal (CGM) and soybean meal (SBM) have demonstrated value as bioherbicides and organic fertilizers, but suggested application rates usually target either weed suppression or crop nutrition, not both. The objective of this study was to explore the feasibility of integrating weed [...] Read more.
Corn gluten meal (CGM) and soybean meal (SBM) have demonstrated value as bioherbicides and organic fertilizers, but suggested application rates usually target either weed suppression or crop nutrition, not both. The objective of this study was to explore the feasibility of integrating weed and nitrogen management by evaluating effects of increasing seed meal rates within planting holes of plastic mulch film on weed density, soil nitrogen availability, and crop yield in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and broccoli (Brassica oleracea). CGM (10% N) or SBM (7% N) were applied at rates of 0.5, 1, 2, 3.5, or 5 g planting hole−1 N (depending on crop and year) after crops were transplanted, and 40 weed seeds per planting hole were seeded. Weed density decreased with increasing seed meal rate, regardless of type, and velvetleaf (Abutilon theophrasti) was more susceptible than the grass weeds tested. Velvetleaf suppression at the 5 g planting hole−1 N rate ranged from 66% to 97%, relative to the weedy control. Soil nitrogen availability increased with the application rate, but ammonium mineralized from seed meals applied at the highest rates were likely phytotoxic to weeds and crops. Seed meals never increased the crop yield and reduced the tomato yield in 2018 by 39% to 64%, relative to the weed-free control. The results suggest that integrating the management of weeds and nitrogen with seed meals in plastic mulch planting holes is not feasible because application rates required for consistent weed suppression are also toxic to crops. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Organic Fertilizers in Horticulture)
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23 pages, 1717 KiB  
Article
Effect of Biofertilizers on Broccoli Yield and Soil Quality Indicators
by Irene Ollio, Vanesa Santás-Miguel, Diego Soto Gómez, Eva Lloret, Virginia Sánchez-Navarro, Silvia Martínez-Martínez, Catalina Egea-Gilabert, Juan A. Fernández, David Fernández Calviño and Raúl Zornoza
Horticulturae 2024, 10(1), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae10010042 - 31 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1393
Abstract
High rates of fertilizer applications potentially have significant environmental consequences, such as soil and water contamination and biodiversity loss. This study aimed to compare the use of biofertilizers and inorganic fertilizers in a broccoli crop to determine their impact on soil microorganism abundance, [...] Read more.
High rates of fertilizer applications potentially have significant environmental consequences, such as soil and water contamination and biodiversity loss. This study aimed to compare the use of biofertilizers and inorganic fertilizers in a broccoli crop to determine their impact on soil microorganism abundance, microbial community structure, functional gene diversity, yield, and greenhouse gas emissions. Four different fertilization treatments were designed: (i) inorganic fertilizers applied at a rate to cover the nutritional demands of the crop (F100); (ii) 50% of the rate of inorganic fertilizers added in F100 (F50); (iii) F50 + the application of a formulation of various bacteria (BA); and (iv) F50 + the application of a formulation of bacteria and non-mycorrhizal fungi (BA + FU). The results showed that reduced fertilization and the addition of both biofertilizer products had no significant effect on soil nutrients, microbial population, microbial activity, or yield when compared to conventional inorganic fertilization. Thus, microbial inoculants were ineffective in enhancing soil microbial abundance and activity, and there were no changes in GHG emissions or crop yields. Nonetheless, crop yield was positively related to total soil N, microbial activity, and CO2 emissions, confirming the positive effect of soil biodiversity on production. The application of biofertilizers can help reduce mineral fertilization in a broccoli crop with no negative effect on yield. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Organic Fertilizers in Horticulture)
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15 pages, 1957 KiB  
Article
Nutrient Solution from Aqueous Extracts as an Alternative to Fertigation in Hydroponic
by María Carmen Salas-Sanjuán, José Luis Ruíz-Zubiate, Juan Luis Valenzuela and Antonio Xavier Campos
Horticulturae 2023, 9(12), 1281; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae9121281 - 28 Nov 2023
Viewed by 876
Abstract
The reintegration of agro-waste into the same agriculture site fulfils the objective of the European Bio-Economy Strategy: to reduce transport costs, waste volume, and the need for mineral fertilizers. One of the fundamental principles in sustainable agriculture is the recycling of crop residues [...] Read more.
The reintegration of agro-waste into the same agriculture site fulfils the objective of the European Bio-Economy Strategy: to reduce transport costs, waste volume, and the need for mineral fertilizers. One of the fundamental principles in sustainable agriculture is the recycling of crop residues through composting or vermicomposting. From this process, it is possible to obtain organic matter for the production of aqueous extracts (tea) that can be used as a source of nutrients in fertigation as an alternative to mineral fertilizers. The objective of this research was to evaluate the use of an aerated or non-aerated aqueous extract as a recirculating nutrient solution in a hydroponic culture (NFT) of lettuce. For this, the test method was compared to hydroponic cultivation with a conventional nutrient solution. The conventional nutrient solution contained minerals or synthetic fertilizers and the aqueous extracts of vermicompost from vegetal residues of horticultural crops. The evolution of the chemical composition of the nutrient solutions during cultivation was analyzed, obtaining adequate concentrations of NO3, K+, and Ca2+ and taking possible imbalances in nutrients such as P-H2PO4 into consideration. Plants fertigated with an organic and aerated nutrient solution obtained good yields and improvements in quality by having six times less N-NO3 in edible leaves compared to plants exposed to the mineral treatment. The preparation of aqueous extracts as a source of nutrients opens the door to circular agriculture to make processes in intensive production systems more efficient. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Organic Fertilizers in Horticulture)
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10 pages, 265 KiB  
Article
Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens) Frass on Sweet-Potato (Ipomea batatas) Slip Production with Aquaponics
by Nicholas Romano, Carl Webster, Surjya Narayan Datta, Gde Sasmita Julyantoro Pande, Hayden Fischer, Amit Kumar Sinha, George Huskey, Steven D. Rawles and Shaun Francis
Horticulturae 2023, 9(10), 1088; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae9101088 - 29 Sep 2023
Viewed by 1021
Abstract
Nutrient supplementations are often added to aquaponic systems to optimize plant production, and black soldier fly larvae frass is a promising organic fertilizer. However, the mineral composition of the frass is substantially influenced by the initial substrate. In an 8-week study, sweetpotato slips [...] Read more.
Nutrient supplementations are often added to aquaponic systems to optimize plant production, and black soldier fly larvae frass is a promising organic fertilizer. However, the mineral composition of the frass is substantially influenced by the initial substrate. In an 8-week study, sweetpotato slips were cultured at commercial stocking densities in an aquaponic system which received weekly additions of either BSFL frass made from high-nitrogen expired fish diets or low-nitrogen fruits/vegetables. The sweetpotato slips (≥8 nodes) were harvested weekly. Despite differences in the mineral composition between the frass types, the water quality as well as slip production/sugar content were unaffected by frass type. The results indicate that a wide array of substrates may be suitable for producing black soldier fly larvae frass as a fertilizer in aquaponic systems. Lastly, aquaponics is a viable system to commercially produce sweetpotato slips. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Organic Fertilizers in Horticulture)
14 pages, 507 KiB  
Article
Sustainable Use of Sewage Sludge for Marigold (Tagetes erecta L.) Cultivation: Experimental and Predictive Modeling Studies on Heavy Metal Accumulation
by Arwa A. AL-Huqail, Pankaj Kumar, Sami Abou Fayssal, Bashir Adelodun, Ivan Širić, Madhumita Goala, Kyung Sook Choi, Mostafa A. Taher, Aziza S. El-Kholy and Ebrahem M. Eid
Horticulturae 2023, 9(4), 447; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae9040447 - 29 Mar 2023
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1771
Abstract
The present study aimed to investigate the impact of sewage sludge (SS) amendment on the growth, yield, and biochemical attributes of the marigold (Tagetes erecta L. var. Pusa Basanti Gainda) crop. For this purpose, marigold flowers were cultivated using three different treatments [...] Read more.
The present study aimed to investigate the impact of sewage sludge (SS) amendment on the growth, yield, and biochemical attributes of the marigold (Tagetes erecta L. var. Pusa Basanti Gainda) crop. For this purpose, marigold flowers were cultivated using three different treatments of SS, i.e., 0% (control with no SS), 5%, and 10%. Multiple linear regression (MLR) modeling was performed to develop prediction models for the impact of soil properties on heavy metals uptake by marigold plants. The results showed that the growth, yield, and biochemical attributes of marigold plants significantly (p < 0.05) increased with an increase in SS dose from 0 to 10%. The most feasible SS treatment was found to be 10%, which achieved a maximum flower yield of 318.42 g/plant. On the other hand, the bioaccumulation factor (BAF) values (>1) showed that the marigold plant was capable of uptaking significant contents of six heavy metals in the order of Cd < Cr < Cu < Zn < Mn < Fe. The MLR-based predictive models were capable of precisely predicting the contents of most heavy metal uptake by marigold plants as indicated by the coefficient of determination (R2 > 0.73), model efficiency (ME > 0.49), root mean square error (RMSE < 3.25), and analysis of variance (ANOVA; p < 0.05) results. Overall, this study presented a novel approach to floriculture by sustainable management of SS while reducing public health and environmental impacts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Organic Fertilizers in Horticulture)
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23 pages, 6585 KiB  
Article
Liquid Leachate Produced from Vermicompost Effects on Some Agronomic Attributes and Secondary Metabolites of Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) Exposed to Severe Water Stress Conditions
by Hatice Kosem, Mehmet Zeki Kocak, Mustafa Guven Kaysim, Ferdi Celikcan and Muhittin Kulak
Horticulturae 2022, 8(12), 1190; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae8121190 - 13 Dec 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1530
Abstract
Water stress is one of the most critical threats to the growth and productivity of plants and is one of the most studied topics in agricultural sciences. In order to enhance the tolerance of plants to water stress conditions, synthetic fertilizers have been [...] Read more.
Water stress is one of the most critical threats to the growth and productivity of plants and is one of the most studied topics in agricultural sciences. In order to enhance the tolerance of plants to water stress conditions, synthetic fertilizers have been widely used in the field. However, due to their toxic effects, recent reports have focused on organic options. In this study, the effects of liquid vermicompost applications (25, 50, 75, and 100%) on the agronomic attributes, phenolic compounds, and essential oil compounds of basil plants exposed to drought stress conditions were investigated. Accordingly, water stress critically reduced the factors of plant height, plant fresh weight, root fresh weight, leaf length, and leaf diameter. On the other hand, vermicompost applications significantly affected all of the parameters considered, except the leaf length of well-watered basil plants. However, a two-way ANOVA analysis revealed that the interactions of water stress and vermicompost were significant on root length and root fresh weight. Regarding the essential oil compounds, the contents of humulene, anethol, eucalyptol, estragole, bisabolene, germacrene, and caryophyllene were quantified. Estragole was determined as a major component by 85–90%. The results revealed that the highest estragole content was determined in the 25% vermicompost + water stress, water stress, and control groups. Of the major phenolic compounds, caffeic acid decreased as a result of water stress conditions but increased with vermicompost treatments. The rosmarinic acid content increased during water stress conditions, attaining the highest content at 25% via the vermicompost and water stress interaction. In general, the 25% and 50% vermicompost applications increased the content of phenolic compounds in plants under either well-watered or stress conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Organic Fertilizers in Horticulture)
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0 pages, 3417 KiB  
Essay
Enhancing Soil Fertility and Elevating Pecan Fruit Quality through Combined Chemical and Organic Fertilization Practices
by Yinhao Tong, Zhaocheng Wang, Duxin Gong, Cheng Huang, Xiaomin Ma, Xiaoxiang Ma, Feiyang Yuan, Songling Fu and Chun Feng
Horticulturae 2024, 10(1), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae10010025 - 26 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 918
Abstract
This study focused on 6-year-old ‘Pawnee’ pecan trees to elucidate the differential responses of physicochemical properties of orchard soil and pecan fruit quality when combining chemical and organic fertilizers. The aim was to unveil the mechanisms that underlie the effects of different fertilization [...] Read more.
This study focused on 6-year-old ‘Pawnee’ pecan trees to elucidate the differential responses of physicochemical properties of orchard soil and pecan fruit quality when combining chemical and organic fertilizers. The aim was to unveil the mechanisms that underlie the effects of different fertilization treatments on soil fertility, soil enzyme activities, and pecan fruit quality. Four treatments were established: sole chemical fertilizer (CF; N:P2O5:K2O is 15:15:15), chemical fertilizer combined with cake fertilizer (CF+CC), chemical fertilizer combined with manure fertilizer (CF+M), and chemical fertilizer combined with cake and manure fertilizer (CF+CC+M). Measurements were taken to assess the soil nutrient content, soil enzyme activities, and fruit growth quality in some orchards under different fertilization treatments. The results revealed that the combined application could increase yield and enhance pecan quality. Among these, the CF+M+CC treatment demonstrated the most favorable outcomes, with the pecan kernel oil and unsaturated fatty acid contents reaching 72.33% and 97.54%, respectively. The combined fertilization treatments had no significant impacts on soil trace elements such as Mg, Cu, and Mn; however, it significantly increased the Available Phosphorus (AP), Total Nitrogen (TN), Soil Organic Matter (SOM) and S-ACP (soil acid phosphatase) activities. In summary, the combined application of chemical and organic fertilizers can significantly increase the soil nutrient content and enzyme activities in pecan orchards, to promote the enhancement of fruit quality and economic aspects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Organic Fertilizers in Horticulture)
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