Growing media used in soilless culture systems are those solid substrates, which alone or in mixtures can guarantee better plant growth conditions similar to agricultural soil in one or many aspects. This study was aimed to characterize lignocellulosic organic substances predominant in most available and effective organic substrates viz., coir pith and dhaincha (Sesbania aculeata) powder and compost maturity in vermicompost based on the presence of functional groups by Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy. The dominant downward peaks noted at 3300-3500 cm-1 in coir pith and dhaincha indicate vibration of hydroxyl (OH-) stretch in cellulose structure and presence of alcohols and phenols. Peaks at 2925-2850 cm-1 found prominently in coirpith would be indicative of vibration of C-H bonds showing aliphatic degradation of cellulose, hemicelluloses, lipids, fats, etc. Particularly in dhaincha, vibration at 1733.32 cm-1 would be due to C=O stretch associated with an unconjugated ketone, carbonyl and ester groups. In vermicompost, peak value around 1549.85 cm-1 indicates C=C aromatic structure formed during mineralization of protein, cellulose, and hemicelluloses showing compost maturity. In the present study, FT-IR analysis of
organic lignocellulosic substrates confirmed the occurrence of lignin, hemicellulose and cellulose, which are the main characteristics of natural fibers with high water holding and cation exchange capacity. Presence of alcoholic and carboxylic groups indicated stages of compost maturity and stability. Therefore, these renewable and environmentally sustainable lignocellulosic organic materials could be recognized as ideal soilless substrates for preparing grow media for containerized crop production and also recycling organic wastes in an environmentally friendly manner.
Coir pith, Dhaincha, FT-IR, Growing media, Vermicompost
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