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Effects of Anaerobic Digestate on Chinese Melon (Cucumis melo L.) Yield Components, Soil Properties, and Microbial Communities under Saline Irrigation Condition

Elbashier, Mohammed M. A., Shao, Xiaohou, Tingting, Chang, Ali, Albashir A. S.
Communications in soil science and plant analysis 2018 v.49 no.19 pp. 2446-2455
Cucumis melo, NPK fertilizers, agricultural land, bacteria, fruits, fungi, greenhouses, irrigation, irrigation water, leaves, melons, microbial communities, plant growth, plant height, saline water, sodium chloride, soil electrical conductivity, soil pH, sugar content, yield components
Digestate is increasingly utilized as a fertilizer, and earlier research was dedicated to plant growth and soil properties, with simple little information available regarding the effects of digestate on soil, plant, and microbial communities under saline irrigation. For this reason, a pot experiment with Chinese melon was conducted in a greenhouse, and digestate (1100 L ha⁻¹) and a full recommended dose of NPK fertilizer were used. The melons were irrigated with normal water 0.25 (SL0) and 2 dS/m (SL1) using sodium chloride (NaCl). Application of digestate increased the melon plant height and leaves number significantly (p < 0.05) compared to control and treatments that received full NPK dose, under both water treatments (SL0 and SL1). The maximum plant height (SL0: 161 cm and SL1: 85.5 cm) and leaves number (SL0: 156.33 and SL1: 69.67) were observed when digestate used with NPK fertilizer. Plant fruit length, fruit diameter, sugar content, and yield increased significantly by digestate addition. The melon fruit sugar content values were 12% (SL0) and 9.83% (SL1). Soil electrical conductivity values increased when digestate combined with NPK fertilizer (1.4 dS m⁻¹) particularly, under saline water, while the soil pH is not affected by digestate treatments. Digestate increased bacteria and decreased the number of fungi in the soil. Our results indicated that the usage of digestate could be more effective than NPK fertilizer on plant growth and soil properties. And there is a need to confirm these results in soils more realistic for agricultural field conditions and pay attention to use of digestate with saline irrigation water.