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Application of vermicompost improves strawberry growth and quality through increased photosynthesis rate, free radical scavenging and soil enzymatic activity

Zuo, Yanan, Zhang, Junxiang, Zhao, Rui, Dai, Hongyan, Zhang, Zhihong
Scientia horticulturae 2018 v.233 pp. 132-140
ascorbic acid, biomass production, cation exchange capacity, chlorophyll, enzyme activity, free radical scavengers, fruit yield, greenhouses, growth and development, leaf area, malondialdehyde, photosynthesis, plant height, soil quality, strawberries, superoxide dismutase, vermicomposts
Vermicompost (VC) is thought to improve soil quality and plant yield. However, the effect and mechanism of VC on strawberry growth and quality are not well known. The objectives of this study were to investigate the effects of VC on the morphological and physiological indexes of strawberry and on the microbial properties of soil and to analyze the potential mechanisms of VC on the growth and development of strawberry. A pot experiment was conducted in a randomized design under solar greenhouse conditions. The treatments were six different volumetric ratios of VC to soil: 100% soil (control, CK); 10% VC + 90% soil (VC10); 20% VC + 80% soil (VC20); 30% VC + 70% soil (VC30); 40% VC + 60% soil (VC40); 50% VC + 50% soil (VC50). In this study, VC not only increased growth attributes such as biomass production, plant height and leaf area but also improved fruit yield, mean fruit weight, and the contents of soluble sugar and vitamin C. Notably, chlorophyll content and net photosynthetic rate increased significantly at the white fruit stage. Additionally, 20% and 30% VC addition dramatically improved superoxide dismutase activity and reduced malondialdehyde content. We also found significant improvements in soil microbial and enzyme activity, cation exchange capacity and root activity with the application of VC compared with the control. Overall, VC had a positive effect on strawberry growth and quality, which was attributed to increases in photosynthesis rate, free radical scavenging, and soil enzymatic activity.