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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 644: International Symposium on Growing Media and Hydroponics

ASSESSMENT OF THE POSSIBLE PHYTOTOXICITY OF A SUBSTRATE USING AN EASY AND REPRESENTATIVE BIOTEST

Authors:   P. Morel, G. Guillemain
Keywords:   growing media, test, waste, compost
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2004.644.55
Abstract:
Until now, the number of materials used as growing substrates have been limited, and therefore well-known. However, more and more organic waste, produced in large quantities from human activity, must be recovered. Much of this waste is indeed composted. Then the horticultural sector is often requested to eliminate some of it as growing media. But the possibility that these products are toxic exists. It is thus urgent to have a reliable and fast test, which makes it possible to evaluate whether such material, incorporated in a substrate, does not deteriorate its agronomic quality. It is necessary for this test to be adapted to the particular conditions of soilless culture in order to be representative of horticultural use. These constraints and horticultural specificity led us to develop a greenhouse test for young horticultural plants, meeting three objectives: it had to be simple to be implemented, selective towards possible toxic elements and representative. This test was mainly validated by a trial carried out with a substrate voluntarily polluted with an incorporated herbicide in increasing amounts. Two common species were used, the lettuce Lactuca sativa ‘Titan’ and the hybrid Petunia ‘Prism Blue’. Measurement of aerial and root biomass made it possible to detect the lowest herbicide contents. Watering conditions remain to be clarified. After checking its reliability, our objective is to standardise this test in France and then in Europe.

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