Master of Science (MS)


Plant, Enviromental and Soil Sciences

Document Type



Public demand for sustainable local and organic food products has led these systems to become one of the fastest growing sectors in the agricultural food market. Consumers are willing to pay a premium for food produced using organic or sustainable practices. Local and small-scale farmers are striving to develop sustainable and in some cases USDA certified organic systems in production of vegetables and fruit. Warm season crops are commonly produced using transplants. Evaluation of nutrient availability is needed for the use of readily available local waste-streams byproducts, such as manures and composts, for amendments or fertilizers in order to manage plant fertility in vegetable transplant production. The objectives of this research were to identify optimum transplant media mixes using locally sourced amendments and evaluate optimal rates and application method for OMRI approved post-applied fish hydrolysate fertilizer in organic basil transplant production. In the first experiment fish hydrolysate (FH) 2:4:1 (N:P:K) was applied as a fertilizer source as a drench or foliar application based on nitrogen application rates of 0, 20, 40, and 80 kg N ha-1 wk-1. The second experiment evaluated vermicompost (VC) at 10, 20, and 40% and composted broiler litter (CB) at 5, 10, and 20% as amendments to a commercial germinating mix treated with or without weekly applications of FH 80 kg N ha -1 as a drench. Application rate and placement of FH affected basil transplant growth in a 38 day period. In general, FH at ≥40 kg N ha-1 wk-1 applied as a drench during basil transplant production resulted in taller plants, thicker stem diameters, and the greater biomasses compared to FH applied directly to leaves 28 days after initial treatment (DAIT). Vermicompost rates had a negligible effect on basil height, stem diameter, and total biomass compared to the control. However, weekly drench applications of FH based on nitrogen rate of 80 kg N ha -1 provided acceptable nutrition for basil growth in VC substrate combinations of 0, 10, 20 and 40% within a 38-day period. Composted broiler litter was not an effective transplant media substrate. Basil grown in the CB treatment at rates of 5 and 10 % were not different than the control and deleterious effects were observed at 20%.



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Committee Chair

Motsenbocker, Carl