Physicochemical, agronomical and microbiological evaluation of alternative growing media for the production of rapini (Brassica rapa L.) microgreens

Francesco Di Gioia, Palmira De Bellis, Carlo Mininni, Pietro Santamaria, Francesco Serio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Peat-based mixes and synthetic mats are the main substrates used for microgreens production. However, both are expensive and non-renewable. Recycled fibrous materials may represent low-cost and renewable alternative substrates. Recycled textile-fiber (TF; polyester, cotton and polyurethane traces) and jute-kenaf-fiber (JKF; 85% jute, 15% kenaf-fibers) mats were characterized and compared with peat and Sure to Grow® (Sure to Grow, Beachwood, OH, USA; http://suretogrow.com) (STG; 100% polyethylene-terephthalate) for the production of rapini (Brassica rapa L.; Broccoletto group) microgreens. RESULTS: All substrates had suitable physicochemical properties for the production of microgreens. On average, microgreens fresh yield was 1502 g m−2 in peat, TF and JKF, and was 13.1% lower with STG. Peat-grown microgreen shoots had a higher concentration of K+ and SO4 2 and a two-fold higher NO3 concentration [1959 versus 940 mg kg−1 fresh weight (FW)] than those grown on STG, TF and JKF. At harvest, substrates did not influence microgreens aerobic bacterial populations (log 6.48 CFU g−1 FW). Peat- and JKF-grown microgreens had higher yeast-mould counts than TF- and STG microgreens (log 2.64 versus 1.80 CFU g−1 FW). Peat-grown microgreens had the highest population of Enterobacteriaceae (log 5.46 ± 0.82 CFU g−1) and Escherichia coli (log 1.46 ± 0.15 CFU g−1). Escherichia coli was not detected in microgreens grown on other media. CONCLUSION: TF and JKF may be valid alternatives to peat and STG because both ensured a competitive yield, low nitrate content and a similar or higher microbiological quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1212-1219
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the science of food and agriculture
Volume97
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 15 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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