Effect of substrate compost percentage on green roof vegetable production


Eksi M., Rowe D. B., Fernandez-Canero R., Cregg B. M.

URBAN FORESTRY & URBAN GREENING, vol.14, no.2, pp.315-322, 2015 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 14 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.ufug.2015.03.006
  • Journal Name: URBAN FORESTRY & URBAN GREENING
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.315-322
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes

Abstract

Use of rooftops to produce locally grown vegetables is increasing. However, due to weight restrictions, shallow substrate depths, and potential harsh environmental conditions, optimizing production can be a challenge. Standard industry practices for ornamental extensive green roofs planted with succulents or other herbaceous perennials and grasses dictate that organic matter should be less than 20% of the original substrate mix. In rooftop agriculture, however, maximizing growth and yields are usually a primary objective and the amount of organic matter incorporated into these substrates are a major factor in this equation. In this study we quantified the optimal percentage of compost in a green roof substrate for optimizing growth and yields for cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) and peppers (Capsicum annuum). The study was conducted on raised green roof platforms over a period of 19 weeks and compared six substrates containing increasing amounts of a commercial compost produced from municipal yard waste (0, 20, 40, 60, 80, and 100%) mixed with a heat-expanded shale and sand base. These treatments were also compared to a typical garden plot at ground level. Plant performance evaluations such as plant growth, chlorophyll fluorescence (Fv/Fm) as an indicator of plant stress, and fruit yields were used as an indicator for optimal substrate mixtures. Generally, the addition of 60% or 80% compost resulted in the greatest plant growth and fruit yields, although compost influenced growth and yield of peppers to a greater degree than cucumbers. In addition, the ground garden plots performed poorly which emphasizes the point that growing vegetables on a rooftop can be advantage because substrates can be engineered to maximize plant health, although the same could be done with raised beds in a garden plot.

Use of rooftops to produce locally grown vegetables is increasing. However, due to weight restrictions, shallow substrate depths, and potential harsh environmental conditions, optimizing production can be a challenge. Standard industry practices for ornamental extensive green roofs planted with succulents or other herbaceous perennials and grasses dictate that organic matter should be less than 20% of the original substrate mix. In rooftop agriculture, however, maximizing growth and yields are usually a primary objective and the amount of organic matter incorporated into these substrates are a major factor in this equation. In this study we quantified the optimal percentage of compost in a green roof substrate for optimizing growth and yields for cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) and peppers (Capsicum annuum). The study was conducted on raised green roof platforms over a period of 19 weeks and compared six substrates containing increasing amounts of a commercial compost produced from municipal yard waste (0, 20, 40, 60, 80, and 100%) mixed with a heat-expanded shale and sand base. These treatments were also compared to a typical garden plot at ground level. Plant performance evaluations such as plant growth, chlorophyll fluorescence (Fv/Fm) as an indicator of plant stress, and fruit yields were used as an indicator for optimal substrate mixtures. Generally, the addition of 60 or 80% compost resulted in the greatest plant growth and fruit yields, although compost influenced growth and yield of peppers to a greater degree than cucumbers. In addition, the ground garden plots performed poorly which emphasizes the point that growing vegetables on a rooftop can be advantage because substrates can be engineered to maximize plant health, although the same could be done with raised beds in a garden plot. (C) 2015 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.