There is an increasing interest in alternatives to peat in growing media due to environmental constraints. However, plants grown in peat substitutes often show impaired growth compared to plants grown in peat-based media. Hence, it would be interesting to know whether these deficiencies can be compensated by supplementing other growth factors, e.g. light.
The present study aims to investigate the interactive nature between growing media and supplemental lighting on plant growth and morphology and to examine whether supplemental light emitting diode (LED) lighting may compensate for adverse growing media effects. Basil ( Ocimum basilicum L.) and Chinese cabbage ( Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis ) were grown in different growing media consisting of peat, green compost, coconut pulp, wood fiber, perlite, and sphagnum moss under blue, red, and far-red supplemental LED lighting. We found significant interactions between growing media and supplemental photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) on plant growth, morphology, and development.
At low light intensities, peat-based and substituted growing media performed similarly, whereas with increasing light intensities, the peat-based growing media significantly outperformed their alternatives. The substrate choice determines the required amount of supplemental light to compensate for adverse growing media effects and the amount varies depending on plant species and season. Thereby, it was indicated that red light alleviates adverse growing media effects best. We also found that far-red light is not effective when background PAR is low and becomes more effective under high background PAR. The implications and prospects of the results are discussed.
Solbach, Jan & Fricke, Andreas & Stützel, Hartmut. (2023). Compensation of adverse growing media effects on plant growth and morphology by supplemental LED lighting. PLOS ONE. 18. e0291601. 10.1371/journal.pone.0291601.