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Earthworm-processed or composted agricultural wastes as ingredients for the preparation of cutting propagation mixes

Mendoza-Hernandez, D., Garcia-de-la-Fuente, R., Belda, R.M., Fornes, F., Abad, M.
Acta horticulturae 2011 no.898 pp. 177-184
Eisenia andrei, Euonymus, Lavandula angustifolia, Rosmarinus officinalis, agricultural wastes, almonds, biomass, coir, earthworms, growing media, ingredients, roots, shoots, tomatoes, vermicomposts
The feasibility of one compost (C) and two vermicomposts (V1 and V2), prepared from a mixture of milled residual tomato crop biomass and ground almond shell (75:25, v:v), as propagation media constituents for the production of rooted cuttings of Euonymus japonicas ‘Compacta’, E. japonicas ‘Microphylla’, Lavandula angustifolia ‘Munstead’ and Rosmarinus officinalis was studied. C was produced by a combined composting system (Rutgers + pile turning); in the case of V1, the fresh waste mixture was first composted (active phase) and afterwards vermicomposted with Eisenia Andrei and E. fetida earthworms; finally, for V2 production, the fresh waste mix was directly vermicomposted. C, V1 and V2 were mixed with a commercial coir dust-based substrate at four rates: 0%, 25%, 50% and 75% by volume. E. japonicas ‘Compacta’ and R. officinalis cuttings showed the highest survival percentage and growth of both roots and shoot with V2; E. japonicas ‘Microphylla’ and L. angustifolia survival was similar with both vermicomposts (V1 and V2), but cuttings grew better with V1 than with V2. C showed the poorest growth results in all cases. Cutting growth response improved with the increase in coir dust volume in the mixtures in most of the species tested, this effect being more outstanding with C than with V1 and V2. The best substrates made from compost or vermicompost showed similar results to, or better results than, those obtained with the control (coir dust). The materials –particularly vermicomposts V1 and V2– appear to have suitable physical and chemical characteristics to be used as growing media constituents for the production of rooted cuttings.