Digestate Biofertilizers Support Similar or Higher Tomato Yields and Quality Than Mineral Fertilizer in a Subsurface Drip Fertigation System

Tyler J. Barzee, Abdolhossein Edalati, Hamed El-Mashad, Daoyuan Wang, Kate Scow, Ruihong Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study investigated the effects of applying anaerobically digested food waste and dairy manure-derived biofertilizers to processing tomatoes. The biofertilizers were produced from a pilot scale system consisting of coarse solid separation and ultrafiltration (5,000 Da) with a capacity of approximately 3.8 m3·d−1. The coarse solids had particle size >53 μm and were not used for drip fertigation. The liquid concentrate and permeate from the system were both delivered to tomato plants through a subsurface drip fertigation system in a farm-scale cultivation experiment. The results showed that liquid digestate biofertilizers could be effectively delivered to the tomato plants given that steps to ensure suitable particle sizes were maintained prior to delivery. The ultrafiltered dairy manure digestate biofertilizer (DMP) had the highest yield of red tomatoes (7.13 ton·ha−1) followed by the concentrated food waste digestate biofertilizer (FWC) and mineral N fertilizer treatments with 6.26 and 5.98 ton·ha−1, respectively. The FWC biofertilizer produced tomatoes with significantly higher total and soluble solids contents compared to the synthetically fertilized tomatoes. Few significant differences between the treatments were observed among the pH, color, or size of the red tomatoes. These results indicate promise for the prospect of applying digestate biofertilizer products to tomatoes using the industry standard subsurface drip fertigation method. Additionally, digestate-derived biofertilizers may have potential to increase crop yields as well as certain quality characteristics of the harvested tomato fruit. No changes in soil quality were found among treatments but more study is required to understand long-term effects of biofertilizer applications with regards to soil quality and environmental risks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number58
JournalFrontiers in Sustainable Food Systems
Volume3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 25 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Primary support for this work was provided by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (Agreement 13-0557-SA). This work was also supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Hatch Project CA-2122-H, and USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Grant #11925159. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) or the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). We acknowledge support from the UC Office of the President’s Multi-Campus Research Programs and Initiatives (MR-15-328473) through UC Water, the University of California Water Security and Sustainability Research Initiative.

Funding Information:
We thank Mr. Israel Herrera and the staff at the Russell Ranch Sustainability Agriculture Facility for their valuable assistance with data collection and field work. We also acknowledge the contributions of Baptiste Truffort, Bibiana Molinos, Emma Torbert, Sam Hornstein, Josh Rapport, and Caleb Adams to the success of this project. Funding. Primary support for this work was provided by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (Agreement 13-0557-SA). This work was also supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Hatch Project CA-2122-H, and USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Grant #11925159. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) or the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). We acknowledge support from the UC Office of the President's Multi-Campus Research Programs and Initiatives (MR-15-328473) through UC Water, the University of California Water Security and Sustainability Research Initiative.

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2019 Barzee, Edalati, El-Mashad, Wang, Scow and Zhang.

Keywords

  • anaerobic digestate
  • biofertilizer
  • liquid fertilizers
  • subsurface drip fertigation
  • tomatoes
  • ultrafiltration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Food Science
  • Ecology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Horticulture

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Digestate Biofertilizers Support Similar or Higher Tomato Yields and Quality Than Mineral Fertilizer in a Subsurface Drip Fertigation System'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this