Evaluation of phytotoxicity of three organic amendments to collard greens using the seed germination bioassay
Small-scale vegetable and fruit crop producers in the USA use locally available commercial organic fertilizers and soil amendments recycled from municipal and agricultural wastes. Organic soil amendments provide crops with their nutrient needs and maintain soil health by modifying its physical, chemical, and biological properties. However, organic soil amendments might add unwanted elements such as toxic heavy metals or salts, which might inhibit crop growth and reduce yield. Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate phytotoxicity of three commercial organic amendments, chicken manure, milorganite, and dairy manure, to collard greens using the seed germination bioassay and chemical analysis of the organic amendments. The seed germination bioassay was conducted by incubating collard greens seeds to germinate in 1:10 (w/v) organic amendment aqueous extracts. Results of this work identified phytotoxic effects of chicken manure and milorganite, but not dairy manure, to collard greens. Potentially phytotoxic chemicals such as copper, zinc, nickel, and salts were also higher in chicken manure and milorganite compared to dairy manure. In particular, nickel in chicken manure and milorganite aqueous extracts was 28-fold and 21-fold, respectively, higher than previously reported toxic levels to wheat seedlings. The results demonstrate the need for more research on phytotoxicity of commercial organic soil amendments to ensure their safe use in vegetable and fruit crop production systems.