Application of Date Fibers as cultivation Substrate With optimization of absorbency and moisture holding

Abstract

The study investigates the possibility of using date palm fibers, produced in date production as a useless side product for date suppliers, as a cultivation substrate and an alternative for coco peat. First, the absorbency, field capacity, and the rate of moisture loss in date fibers, coco peat, peat moss, perlite, and soil were compared. Then, using Randomized complete block design (RCBD), in two intervals of 3 and 5 days, the moisture-holding capacity was studied in two combinations: date fibers, peat moss, and perlite vs. coco peat, peat moss, and perlite, in 11 treatments and 3 repetitions. In order to find the best treatment in each group, the response surface method and utility function were applied and eventually the optimized treatments were compared through a statistical plan to other studies’ applied treatments in terms of moisture-holding capacity. The results demonstrate that absorption potential and the rate of moisture loss reduces respectively in coco peat, peat moss, dates’ fibers, perlite, and soil. The most moisture-holding capacity was observed in date fibers-peat moss-perlite with the combination of 65%-20%-15% for three days and the combination of 75%-10%-15% for five days and the one of coco peat-peat moss-perlite with the combination of 75%-20%-5% for five days.

Introduction

In recent years, greenhouse cultivation and out of season production of crops has been increased in comparison with soil cultivation due to different causes such as controlling the plants feeding, improving the products’ quality and quantity to meet the needs of fresh dates and dried organic dates of wholesale date suppliers. The characteristics of cultivation substrate influence plants’ growth and production both directly and indirectly. Choosing the appropriate cultivation surface is one of the important factors to make the non-soil cultivation successful.

Some of the most important organic substrates are Peat moss, coco peat, bagasse, leafy soil, and perlite. Vermiculite, zeolite, and pumice are significant mineral substrates.  An appropriate substrate not only should be physically-chemically and biologically convenient, but also should be accessible, affordable, and stable, light enough to be easy to apply and its transportation should be economically reasonable.

Peat moss is a material with herbal origin with more than 50% organic ingredients. It is made through the decomposition process of dried and live parts of plants. It is found in moss-covered lands and anaerobic conditions like swamps and marshes. Some advantages of using peat moss include humidity storage several times more than the weight of dry material, ventilation of heavy soil and clay, and joining the light and sandy soil together. High expenses, scarcity, and environmental concerns have encouraged the investigators to find a proper alternative for this material.

Numerous materials such as wood waste, sawdust, broadleaf and needle leaf tree skin, soil leaf, wastewater sludge, and coco peat have been used as a cultivation substrate. Using coco peat instead of peat moss has been widespread in European countries. Coco peat is the product of fiber extraction from coconut skin after being ground and dried. Having numerous pores, the material is capable of absorbing water and nutrition up to six times its weight and reduce the necessity of frequent irrigation.

A study shows the number of roots, wet and dry weight of stoma and root in each Epipremnum Aureum bush was more in coco peat substrate than soil leaf, quartz sand and their combination in greenhouse condition. In another experiment that the most and least number of rose leaves were obtained in perlite and zeolite substrates (75% – 25%) and in pumice and zeolite substrates (75% – 25%), respectively. Moreover, the study indicates that the best length, diameter, and wet weight of flourishing stem were obtained in coco peat and zeolite substrate (75%-25%), and the most number of flowers in each bush was related to the mixture of coco peat and perlite (50%-50%).

Another research states the following results: the highest weight of wet and dry root of Coleus Blume belonged to a substrate of a mixture of soil leaf and perlite (50%-50%), the most number of minor roots was seen in 100% perlite treatment. The longest root, stem, wet and dry weight of branches was observed in a 100% peat moss treatment, due to the high capacity of moisture-holding. The point is that although coco peat was also investigated in this survey, it was not an appropriate substrate for this plant.

The cellulose fibers of Phoenix dactylifera (date palm) are very similar to the one for coco peat. In Iran date productions, specifically in Kerman province, there are over hundred thousand hectares of land under date palm cultivation, with a huge amount of these fibers being produced and burned because of being useless. Therefore, by applying a minor modification, they can be consumed as an appropriate alternative of coco peat.

A research was conducted on finding an alternative for peat moss substrate using Chinese Evergreens plant. It indicated that the number of leaves, dry and wet weight of stoma and the root in coco peat substrate were considerably more than date fibers substrate. However, the largest leaf surface and stem length were the same in coco peat and date fiber substrates, statistically.

Furthermore, the study indicated that most of date fiber substrate’s characteristics such as EC, Cation-exchange capacity, pH, apparent specific gravity, and total porosity percentage had no meaningful difference with coco peat substrates except for the moisture-holding capacity of date fiber substrate which was less than the one for coco peat. Since coco peat and peat moss resources in Iran are limited and they are imported with high cost and charges, this study tries to investigate whether date fibers can be appropriate enough to be used as an alternative for coco peat as a cultivation substrate with sufficient moisture-holding capacity.

Therefore the ability of date fibers, coco peat, peat moss, perlite, and soil in water holding was examined and then in two groups substrates were compared in moisture-holding capacity. The first group was a mixture of date fibers, peat moss, and perlite and the second group was a mixture of coco peat, peat moss, and perlite. To discover the best treatment in each group, optimization was done using the response surface method and utility function. Consequently, the optimized treatments were compared by those for other investigations, using Randomized complete block design (RCBD).

Conclusion

In this research, the possibility of using date fibers as a cultivation substrate and an alternative for coco pear and peat moss was studied. The experiments and analysis conducted indicated:

  • Coco peat has the highest potential to absorb moisture; this item decreases respectively in peat moss, date fibers, perlite, and soil.
  • Coco peat has the lowest rate of losing moisture and in comparison with date fibers, it has the higher moisture-holding capacity.
  • In coco peat group, the mixture of coco peat, peat moss, and perlite (75%, 20%, and 5%) is the indicated the best state of maximizing moisture content up to 5 days and the effect of coco peat percentage was the key effect in moisture content control.
  • Date fibers group with a mixture of date fibers, peat moss, and perlite (65%, 20%, and 15%) indicated the best state of maximizing moisture content for up to 3 days.
  • In the coco peat group, by increasing the amount of coco peat and peat moss, the humidity percentage increases and by increasing the time the humidity would decrease. Also, the slope of coco peat positive effects are more than peat moss, however, their mutual effect of these two variables on one other is not meaningful.
  • In the date fibers group, increasing the amount of date fiber and peat moss, moisture content increases and by increasing the time, this value decreases. However, the slope of peat moss positive effects is more than date fibers and their mutual effect of this variable on one other is meaningful.

Amoot Iranian Trading Company is where to buy date fibers as well as organic dates bulk and packed in any requested quantity.

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