Creating an Optimum Potting Mixture for Resource-Constrained Northern Thai Growers
Gray, Hannah L.
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In order to create a sustainable food system, research and development needs to consider small holder farming in addition to industrial farming practices. One area in which small-holder farmers require support is the maintenance and conservation of their crop genetic resources. Locally based seed banks can play a key role in disseminating both seeds and knowledge to surrounding farming communities. For those seed banks, which take on the role of seed production in addition to seed resource dispersal, efficient production methods are of upmost importance. In particular, production of seeds in a nursery setting can take up a large portion of resources when using conventional nursery production inputs. The goal of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of alternatives to traditional potting mix soils, using low-cost, locally sourced materials within the context of the Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization’s (ECHO) Asia Regional Seed Bank. Seven potting mixtures were tested across four species over a 36-day growth period. Success of a potting mixture was evaluated by growth and vigor of the species. Seedling emergence data were compared with petri dish seed germination data to set a baseline of seed health. The results suggest that the timeframe in which seedlings grow in a given substrate influences the level of importance of the substrate composition. Potting mix type was not significant for short-term growth, under 10 days but by 20 days of growth it was a significant determinate of seedling length. While the significant interaction between seed species and potting mix type after 30 days of growth complicated the picture of efficacy of each individual mixture, these results indicate that the low cost, low labor Upland Holistic Development Project’s (UDHP) potting mix is as or more effective than a commercial mix for the tested species.