Comparison of date-palm wastes and perlite as growth substrates on some tomato growing indexes
Today, various organic matters are used as growth media. Most of them are combined with various materials, such as a mixture of peat moss and pine bark, or a mixture of peat moss and pine bark with mineral materials like perlite or vermiculite. All over the world, stone wool and other materials like perlite, pumice, polyortan phome, zeolite, coco peat and sawdust are used as growth media in soilless culture. The objective of this study was to assess the effects of incubation time on the physicochemical properties of date palm wastes and their effects on growing indexes of tomato in comparison with perlite when used as culture substrates. The date palm wastes were first manually chopped into small pieces, after which they were kept in plastic bags. They were adjusted to 55% moisture content and thoroughly mixed once every week. Treatments were done for 4 incubation times (0, 1, 3 and 9 months). The physicochemical properties of materials were analyzed during 3 months. After 3 months of incubation, for comparison of this composting materials (date-palm) with other substrates, perlite and the composting materials were used as growth media. The research was conducted in a completely randomized design with 6 replications of tomato for 6 months. Treatments included perlite, date-palm1 (without incubation time) and date-palm2 (with 3 months incubation time). During plant growth irrigation rate, temperature, humidity and pest control for all treatments were similar. During plant growth, Papadopolus formula with fertigation method was used for the nutrient solution. The plants were kept for 6 months, then after this period, the physicochemical properties of these materials were analyzed again. So, the growing indexes of tomato, which included fruit yield, plant height, fruit number, stem diameter, TSS and biomass, were measured. The results of incubation time period showed that changes of porosity, bulk density, pH, C/N ratio and CEC had significant differences (p<0.05). The C/N ratio reduced, while the bulk density and CEC increased by the increase in incubation time period. Comparison of tomato growing indexes in the different substrates showed that fruit yield, plant height and fruit number of tomato had no significant differences at 5% level, but stem diameter and biomass in date-palm1 was higher than other media and thus, had significant differences at 5% level.
Key words: Date palm wastes, incubation time, aerating, perlite, fertigation, tomato.