Author(s): Atiyeh RM, Lee S, Edwards CA, Arancon NQ, Metzger JD
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Abstract Some effects of humic acids, formed during the breakdown of organic wastes by earthworms (vermicomposting), on plant growth were evaluated. In the first experiment, humic acids were extracted from pig manure vermicompost using the classic alkali/acid fractionation procedure and mixed with a soilless container medium (Metro-Mix 360), to provide a range of 0, 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 500, 1,000, 2,000, and 4,000 mg of humate per kg of dry weight of container medium, and tomato seedlings were grown in the mixtures. In the second experiment, humates extracted from pig manure and food wastes vermicomposts were mixed with vermiculite to provide a range of 0, 50, 125, 250, 500, 1,000, and 4,000 mg of humate per kg of dry weight of the container medium, and cucumber seedlings were grown in the mixtures. Both tomato and cucumber seedlings were watered daily with a solution containing all nutrients required to ensure that any differences in growth responses were not nutrient-mediated. The incorporation of both types of vermicompost-derived humic acids, into either type of soilless plant growth media, increased the growth of tomato and cucumber plants significantly, in terms of plant heights, leaf areas, shoot and root dry weights. Plant growth increased with increasing concentrations of humic acids incorporated into the medium up to a certain proportion, but this differed according to the plant species, the source of the vermicompost, and the nature of the container medium. Plant growth tended to be increased by treatments of the plants with 50-500 mg/kg humic acids, but often decreased significantly when the concentrations of humic acids derived in the container medium exceeded 500-1,000 mg/kg. These growth responses were most probably due to hormone-like activity of humic acids from the vermicomposts or could have been due to plant growth hormones adsorbed onto the humates.
This article was published in Bioresour Technol
and referenced in Journal of Bioremediation & Biodegradation