Effect of mycorrhizal inoculation and compost supply on growth and nutrient uptake of young leek plants grown on peat-based substrates.
Organic horticultural production systems often are characterized by the use of beneficial soil microorganisms because the application of soluble inorganic P or N fertilizers is not endorsed. Due to the limited supply of soluble nutrients in organic production systems, nutrient deficiency may limit plant growth and yield. The sole use of peat for pot-based cultures is also discouraged in organic production systems. Therefore, we have studied viable alternatives for highly soluble fertilizers and pure peat substrates using leek [Allium ampeloprasum L. var. Porrum] as a test plant. Plants were grown on peat-based substrates with different rates of compost additions, and with and without inoculation with arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. Inoculation with a commercial AM fungus inoculum resulted in colonization rates of up to 70% of total root length, whereas not inoculated plants remained free of root colonization. Mycorrhizal fungus colonization increased shoot Zn and K concentrations, but did not significantly affect shoot dry matter or shoot N and P concentrations. In contrast, compost addition increased plant growth, and also increased P and K concentrations in plants. We conclude that plants with high rates of mycorrhizal colonization can be obtained on peat-based substrates, but that under these conditions plants may not consistently benefit in growth from the mycorrhizal symbiosis. In contrast, additions of compost are a possible means to improve the substrate quality in organic horticultural production.
Perner, H.; Schwarz, D.; George, E. 2006. Effect of mycorrhizal inoculation and compost supply on growth and nutrient uptake of young leek plants grown on peat-based substrates. HortScience 41(3), 628-632.