The Challenge of Peat Substitution in Organic Seedling Production: Optimization of Growing Media Formulation through Mixture Design and Response Surface Analysis

PLoS One. 2015 Jun 12;10(6):e0128600. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0128600. eCollection 2015.


Peat replacement is an increasing demand in containerized and transplant production, due to the environmental constraints associated to peat use. However, despite the wide information concerning the use of alternative materials as substrates, it is very complex to establish the best materials and mixtures. This work evaluates the use of mixture design and surface response methodology in a peat substitution experiment using two alternative materials (green compost and palm fibre trunk waste) for transplant production of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.); melon, (Cucumis melo L.); and lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) in organic farming conditions. In general, the substrates showed suitable properties for their use in seedling production, showing the best plant response the mixture of 20% green compost, 39% palm fibre and 31% peat. The mixture design and applied response surface methodology has shown to be an useful approach to optimize substrate formulations in peat substitution experiments to standardize plant responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cucurbitaceae / growth & development*
  • Lactuca / growth & development*
  • Organic Agriculture / methods*
  • Seedlings / growth & development*
  • Soil*
  • Solanum lycopersicum / growth & development*


  • Soil

Grants and funding

The Organic Farming Office of the Italian Ministry of Agriculture has supported the open access fees of this publication.