In this chapter the characteristics of substrates will be discussed with respect to their effects on plant nutrition. Therefore, the chemical composition will be taken into account in the first place, because the mineral elements present in the material can be directly available to plants or can become available to plants dependent on the growing conditions. Besides mineral elements also other chemical compounds can be available in the material, which affect the plant growth negatively as well positively. Furthermore, with the preparation of some substrates mineral fertilizers are added to supply the plants grown in it with sufficient nutrients at the start of the growing period. Such applications with the preparation depend on the objective for which the substrate is prepared. Requirements in this field differ for substrates, crops grown and growing conditions. Important factors with respect to the growing conditions are for example the length of the growing period of the plant – a short propagation or a long production period – the growing system aimed at, the irrigation system and in relation with the last the method of fertilization that will be applied. If for example a substrate is prepared for a growing system in which directly at the start a complete nutrient solution is supplied, the requirement for the addition of mineral nutrients is less in comparison when is started with irrigation of just pure water. Substrates with a high cation adsorption capacity (CEC) will be fertilized differently from substrates with a low CEC. In this chapter mainly characteristics of substrates that affect the uptake of mineral elements by plants will be presented, while physical characteristics not directly affecting the mineral composition of plants are outside the context of this book.
Sonneveld, C., & Voogt, W. (2009). Substrates: Chemical characteristics and preparation. In C. Sonneveld, & W. Voogt (Eds.), Plant nutrition of greenhouse crops (pp. 227-256). Dordrecht: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-2532-6_11