An innovative horticulture nutrient and biodegradable support is described in this paper for replacing plastic culture pots. This support is prepared with Luffa aegyptica, plant having a water holding capacity higher than that of the regular soil and that is also biodegradable. Brown seaweed Padina pavonica was incorporated as an organic fertilizer of plant growth. Chemical analysis of the aqueous extract of this alga showed the presence of macronutrients such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) necessary for development and growth of plants. Agar-agar was added as a solidifying agent. A medium containing only soil and another containing soil with chemical fertilizer served as controls. Sunflower seeds grown in medium supplemented with brown seaweed; (P. pavonica + agar (4% or 6%) + L. aegyptica have a growth rate (length and diameter of the stem, number of leaves) that is slower than the plants grown in a medium with a comparable amount of the soil with chemical fertilizer. However, the plants in the soil and others in the soil with chemical fertilizer and the media (seaweed + L. aegyptica + agar 4%) have not completed their growth while the plants grown in the media (seaweed + L. aegyptica + agar 6%) continued to grow. A biodegradability test showed that a piece of support (seaweed + agar 1.5% + L. aegyptica) presented a degradation rate higher than the support with only Luffa and agar 1.5%, while a piece of plastic had not degraded. The results of our study have shown that this support has helped to extend the duration of growth and enhanced the quality of the plants. Ultimately, the fabricated support presented fertilizer properties, water retention and biodegradability and could serve in horticulture as an alternative to plastic pots and chemical fertilizer.
Key words: Brown seaweed, Padina pavonica, Biostimulant, Luffa, water retention, biodegradability.
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