Thomas Marios Kalozoumis, Horticultural Science – Master’s programme
Sustainable agricultural practices are at the forefront of addressing global food security challenges while minimizing environmental impact. This research aimed to contribute to these efforts, focusing on tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) cultivation, a globally significant crop known for its nutritional benefits and economic value. The main objectives of this study were to explore the use of solid digestate as an alternative to peat, which is non-renewable and environmentally detrimental, and to assess the effect of Trichoderma afroharzianum T-22, Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, and poly-β-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) on plant growth, health, and productivity. The utilization of solid digestate showed promising potential for reducing dependence on peat. Bio-inoculation with T. afroharzianum T-22 and B. amyloliquefaciens and the application of PHB were found to influence parameters like chlorophyll content and nutrient uptake, even though they did not show significant differences regarding plant biomass. Intriguing interactions between different treatments and their effect on microbial colony-forming unit (CFU) counts in the substrate were unveiled, highlighting the complex interplay between microbial communities and plant health. These findings underscore the potential of integrating renewable substrates and beneficial microorganisms in tomato cultivation towards more sustainable and efficient agricultural practices. They also illuminate a path for future research, particularly in the realm of organic production, where such strategies can contribute significantly to optimizing plant productivity while preserving environmental integrity. The exploration of more combinations of treatments, a wider range of plant species, as well as the elimination of harmful residues, is recommended to broaden the applicability of the findings.