Sugarcane Bagasse Ash as a Seedling Growth Media Component

  •  Charles Webber III    
  •  Paul White    
  •  Eric Petrie    
  •  James Shrefler    
  •  Merritt Taylor    


Bagasse is the fibrous material remaining after removing the sucrose, water, and other impurities (filter mud) from the milable sugarcane. Louisiana sugarcane mills use a portion of the sugarcane bagasse for fuel producing over 20,411 mt of sugarcane bagasse ash (SBA) as a by-product. The purpose of this research was to investigate the use of SBA as an amendment to soilless planting media for the production of vegetable seedlings. The SBA was combined by volume with a commercial soilless growing media into 5 combinations (0%:100%, 25%:75%, 50%:50%, 75%:25%, and 100%:0%, SBA and growing media, respectively). Squash var. ‘Straightneck’ and cantaloupe var. ‘Magnum Hybrid Melon’ were planted in each of the 5 different planting mixtures. The research indicates that the addition of SBA can enhance squash and cantaloupe seedling growth depending on the percentage of the ash added to the growth media. Squash plant stalk lengths and total plant fresh weights (stalk, leaves, tops, roots, and total plant) overall responded best at the 75% SBA. Squash dry weights were consistently greater when SBA was added to the soilless media compared to no SBA. The 25% and 50% SBA media produced the greatest cantaloupe leaf fresh weights. Cantaloupe leaf dry weights followed a similar trend, where the 25% and 50% SBA media produced greater plant weights with lesser yields observed at the 75% and 100% SBA levels. This data suggests that the 75% SBA and 25% SBA were certainly suitable potting media combinations for squash and cantaloupe seedling production, respectively.

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