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Dynamics of nitrogen availability in pot grown crops with organic fertilization


Pot grown herbs are often cultivated as certified organic products, and there is an increasing demand for organically certified ornamental plants. Supplying the required nutrients using organic fertilizers is a challenge with respect to matching the mineralization and thus the availability of dissolved nutrients in the growing medium with plant demand. In experiments, sweet basil and Pelargonium × hortorum were cultivated using two different organic fertilizer strategies and controlled-release mineral nutrients as control treatment. The two organic strategies were, i) blood meal + Baralith® Enslow (a plant-based organic fertilizer), and ii) poultry manure. The availability of dissolved nitrogen was monitored during the crop cycle by under-pressure lysimeter sampling. Plant development parameters were measured along with chlorophyll fluorescence and chlorophyll concentration of leaves. For both organic treatments, nitrate-N availability was low at the beginning of the experiment, whereas ammonium-N was high. During the experiment, ammonium availability decreased at the same time as nitrate availability increased after a few weeks and then declined again by the end of the experiment. The blood meal + Enslow treatment caused poor germination and slow growth in basil. Plant height and fresh weight was also affected by this treatment for basil but not for Pelargonium. Chlorophyll concentration was affected by treatment, with also visually detectable paler leaves in the treatment with poultry manure. There were no differences in chlorophyll fluorescence (Fv/Fm) between treatments, indicating that plants were not stressed in any of the treatments.

KEYWORDS: Basil, greenhouse cultivation, nitrogen, organic crop production, Pelargonium


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