Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 36, pp 35915–35927 | Cite as

Alternative soilless media using olive-mill and paper waste for growing ornamental plants

  • Antonios ChrysargyrisEmail author
  • Omiros Antoniou
  • Andreas Tzionis
  • Munoo Prasad
  • Nikolaos TzortzakisEmail author
Sustainable Waste Management


Peat-based growing media are not ecologically sustainable and peat extraction threatens sensitive peatland ecosystem. In this study, olive-stone waste (OSW) and paper waste (PW) were used in different ratios—as growing media—for ornamental crop production, as peat (P) substitutes. Marigold (Calendula officinalis L.), petunia (Petunia x hybrita L.) and matthiola (Matthiola incana L.) plants were grown in (1) P (100%), (2) P:OSW (90%:10%), (3) P:OSW (70%:30%), and (4) P:OSW:PW (60%:20%:20%). The physicochemical properties of these substrates and the effects on plant growth were determined. The addition of 10–30% OSW into the substrate increased marigold height compared to plants grown in 100% peat. No differences in plant size, plant biomass (leaves and flowers), and dry matter content were found. Adding PW, in combination with OSW, maintained marigold height and total number of flowers produced to similar levels as in plants grown in 100% peat. In matthiola, adding 30% OSW into the substrate reduced plant size and fresh weight, but not plant height. No differences were observed when plants grew in lower OSW (i.e., 10%) content. Petunia’s height, its total number of flowers and flower earliness (flower opening) were increased in the presence of OSW compared to the plants grown in 100% peat. The addition of OSW did not affect petunia’s size and fresh weight among treatments. The addition of PW suppressed several plant growth-related parameters for both matthiola and petunia. The insertion of OSW did not change leaf chlorophyll content whereas the presence of PW decreased chlorophylls for marigold, petunia, and matthiola. Both OSW and PW altered the content of total phenolics and antioxidant capacity of 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) and 2,2′-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulphonic acid) (ABTS) in leaves and flowers for marigold and petunia. Both 30% OSW and PW increased antioxidative enzyme metabolism due to the increased damage index and lipid peroxidation observed in plants. Leaf N and P content decreased in PW-based media, while matthiola displayed visual phytotoxicity symptoms when PW was added into the substrate. The present work indicates that up to 30% of OSW can replace peat for marigold and petunia growing and only up to 10% of OSW for matthiola, while the addition of PW on top of OSW is not recommended, so further research is needed.


Olive-mill waste Paper waste Peat Growth Earliness Ornamentals Antioxidants 



Thanks to Mrs. Maria Koutroumani (Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs, Athens, Greece) for language editing.


  1. Ahmad P, Jaleel CA, Salem MA, Nabi G, Sharma S (2010) Roles of enzymatic and nonenzymatic antioxidants in plants during abiotic stress. Critical Rev Biotech 30(3):161–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alburquerque JA, Gonzalvez J, Garcνa D, Cegarra J (2007) Effects of a compost made from the solid by-product (“alperujo”) of the two-phase centrifugation system for olive oil extraction and cotton gin waste on growth and nutrient content of ryegrass (Lolium perenne L). Bioresour Technol 98(4):940–945. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Azevedo Neto AD, Prisco JT, Enéas-Filho J, Abreu CEB, Gomes-Filho E (2006) Effect of salt stress on antioxidative enzymes and lipid peroxidation in leaves and roots of salt-tolerant and salt sensitive maize genotypes. J Environ Exp Bot 56(1):87–94. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baziramakenga R, Simard RR, Lalande R (2001) Effect of de-inking paper sludge compost application on soil chemical and biological properties. Can J Soil Sci 81(5):561–575. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bradford MM (1976) A rapid and sensitive method for the quantitation of microgram quantities of protein utilizing the principle of protein-dye binding. Anal Biochem 72(1-2):248–254. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bugbee GJ (2002) Growth of ornamental plants in container media amended with biosolids composts. Compost Sci Util 10(2):92–98. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bullock CH, Collier MJ, Convery F (2012) Peatlands, their economic value and priorities for their future management—the example of Ireland. Land Use Policy 29(4):921–928. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Castillo JE, Herrera F, Lopez-Bellido RJ, Lopez-Bellido FJ, Lopez-Bellido L, Fernandez EJ (2004) Municipal solid waste (MSW) compost as a tomato transplant medium. Compost Sci Util 12(1):86–92. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ceglie FG, Bustamante MA, Ben Amara M, Tittarelli F (2015) The challenge of peat substitution in organic seedling production: optimization of growing media formulation through mixture design and response surface analysis. PLoS One 10(6):e0128600. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chong C (2005) Experiences with wastes and composts in nursery substrates. Hortechnology 15:739–747Google Scholar
  11. Christoulaki Μ, Gouma S, Manios T, Τzortzakis N (2014) Deployment of sawdust as substrate medium in hydroponically grown lettuce. J Plant Nutr 37(8):1304–1315. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chrysargyris A, Panayiotou C, Tzortzakis N (2016) Nitrogen and phosphorus levels affected plant growth, essential oil composition and antioxidant status of lavender plant (Lavandula angustifolia Mill.) Ind Crop Prod 83:577–586. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chrysargyris A, Xylia P, Botsaris G, Tzortzakis N (2017) Antioxidant and antibacterial activities, mineral and essential oil composition of spearmint (Mentha spicata L.) affected by the potassium levels. Ind Crop Prod 103:202–212. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. D’Addabbo T, Fontanazza G, Lamberti F, Sasanelli N, Patumi M (1997) The suppressive effect of soil amendments with olive residues on Meloidogyne incognita. Nematol Medit 25:195–198Google Scholar
  15. Fernfindez-Bolafios J, Felizon B, Heredia A, Guillon R, Jimenez A (1999) Characterization of the lignin obtained by alkaline delignification and of the cellulose residue from steam-exploded olive stones. Bioresour Technol 68(2):121–132. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Foyer CH, Noctor G (2011) Ascorbate and glutathione: the heart of the redox hub. Plant Physiol 155(1):2–18. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Garcia-Gomez A, Bernal MP, Roig A (2002) Growth of ornamental plants in two composts prepared from agroindustrial waste. Bioresour Technol 83(2):81–87. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ghosheh HZ, Hameed KM, Turk MA, Al-Jamali AF (1999) Olive (Olea europea) jift suppresses broomrape (Orobanche spp.) infections in faba bean (Vicia faba), pea (Pisum sativum), and tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum). Weed Technol 13:457–460CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gill SS, Tuteja N (2010) Reactive oxygen species and antioxidant machinery in abiotic stress tolerance in crop plants. Plant Physiol Biochem 48(12):909–930. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Greive CM, Poss JA, Shouse PJ (2008) Modeling growth of Matthiola incana in response to saline wastewaters differing in nitrogen level. Hortscience 43:1787–1793Google Scholar
  21. Herrera F, Castillo JE, Chica AF, Lopez Bellido L (2008) Use of municipal solid waste compost (MSWC) as a growing medium in the nursery production of tomato plants. Bioresour Technol 99(2):287–296. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. IPS International Peat Society (2008) Peatlands and climate change. Jyvtlands, Finland: International Peat Society. Pp.224Google Scholar
  23. Kelepesi S, Tzortzakis NG (2009) Olive-mill wastes—a growing medium component for seedling and crop production of lettuce and chicory. Int J Veg Sci 15(4):325–339. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kern J, Tammeorg P, Shanskiy M, Sakrabani R, Knicker H, Kammann C, Tuhkanen E-M, Smidt G, Prasad M, Tiilikkala K, Sohi S, Gasco G, Steiner C, Glaser B (2017) Synergistic use of peat and charred material in growing media—an option to reduce the pressure on peatlands. J Environ Eng Landsc Manag 25:160–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kiarostami K, Mohseni R, Saboora A (2010) Biochemical changes of Rosmarinus officinalis under salt stress. J Stress Physiol Biochem 6:114–122Google Scholar
  26. Landis TD, Tinus RW, McDonald SE, Barnett JP (1990) Containers and growing media. The container tree nursery manual. Agriculture Handbook 674 (vol. 2). USDA Forest Service, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  27. Lazcano C, Arnold J, Tato A, Zaller GJ, Domínguez J (2009) Compost and vermicompost as nursery pot components: effects on tomato plant growth and morphology. Span J Agric Res 7(4):944–951. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Manios T (2004) The composting potential of different organic solid wastes: experience from the island of Crete. Environ Int 29(8):1079–1089. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Marinou E, Chrysargyris A, Tzortzakis N (2013) Use of sawdust, coco soil and pumice in hydroponically grown strawberry. Plant Soil Environ 59:452–459CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mendez A, Barriga S, Fidalgo JM, Gasco G (2009) Adsorbent materials from paper industry waste materials and their use in Cu (II) removal from water. J Hazard Mater 165(1–3):736–743. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Moral R, Paredes C, Perez-Murcia MD, Perez-Espinosa A, Bustamante MA (2013) Challenges of composting for growing media purposes in Spain and Mediterranean area. Acta Hortic 1013:25–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Morales-Corts R, Gómez-Sánchez MA, Pérez-Sánchez R (2014) Evaluation of green/pruning wastes compost and vermicompost, slumgum compost and their mixes as growing media for horticultural production. Sci Hort 172:155–160. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Morrish R, Hofstede H (2000) Alternatives to peat: a manual. Murdoch University: Perth, WA. pp. 18Google Scholar
  34. Ouzounidou G, Asfi M, Sotirakis N, Papadopoulou P, Gaitis F (2008) Olive mill wastewater triggered changes in physiology and nutritional quality of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) depending on growth substrate. J Hazard Mater 158(2-3):523–530. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Papafotiou M, Chronopoulos J, Kargas G, Voreakou M, Leodaritis N, Lagogiani O, Gazi S (2001) Cotton gin trash compost and rice hulls as growing medium components for ornamentals. J Horti Sci Biotechnol 76:431–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Papafotiou M, Kargas G, Lytra I (2005) Olive-mill wastes compost as growth medium component for foliage potted plants. Hortscience 40:1746–1750Google Scholar
  37. Papafotiou M, Phsyhalou M, Kargas G, Chatzipavlidis I, Chronopoulos J (2004) Olive-mill wastes compost as growing medium component for the production of poinsettia. Sci Hortic 102(2):167–175. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Pardo T, Martínez-Fernández D, Clemente R, Walker DJ, Bernal MP (2014) The use of olive-mill waste compost to promote the plant vegetation cover in a trace-element-contaminated soil. Environ Sci Pollut Res 21(2):1029–1038. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Paredes C, Cegarra J, Bernal MP, Roig A (2005) Influence of olive mill wastewater in composting and impact of the compost on a Swiss chard crop and soil properties. Environ Int 31(2):305–312. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ravindran B, Mnkeni PNS (2016) Bio-optimization of the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio for efficient vermicomposting of chicken manure and waste paper using Eisenia fetida. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23(17):16965–16976. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Scherer R, Lemos MF, Lemos MF, Martinelli GC, Martins JDL, da Silva AG (2013) Antioxidant and antibacterial activities and composition of Brazilian spearmint (Mentha spicata L.) Ind Crop Prod 50:408–413. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Schmilewski G (2009) Growing medium constituents used in the EU. Acta Hortic 819:33–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sgherri CLM, Navari-Izzo F (1995) Sunflower seedlings subjected to increasing water deficit stress: oxidative stress and defence mechanisms. Physiol Plant 93(1):25–30. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sofiadou E, Tzortzakis NG (2012) Deployment of olive-mill waste as a substitute growing medium component in tomato seedling and crop production. Int J Veg Sci 18(3):272–283. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Spiers TM, Fietje G (2000) Green waste compost as a component in soilless growing media. Compos Sci Utiliz 8(1):19–23. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Tarchoune I, Sgherri C, Izzo R, Lachaal M, Navari-Izzo F, Ouerghi Z (2012) Changes in the antioxidative systems of Ocimum basilicum L. (cv. Fine) under different sodium salts. Acta Physiol Plant 34(5):1873–1881. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Tarchoune I, Sgherri C, Izzo R, Lachaâl M, Ouerghi Z, Navari-Izzo F (2010) Antioxidant response of Ocimum basilicum to sodium chloride or sodium sulphate salinization. Plant Physiol Biochem 48(9):772–777. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Tsakaldimi M (2006) Kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L.) core and rice hulls as components of container media for growing Pinus halepensis M. seedlings. Bioresour Technol 97(14):1631–1639. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Tucker P, Douglas P (2006) Composted paper mill waste as a peat substitute. Newspaper Industry Environmental Technology Initiative. University of Paisley. Report. (
  50. Tzortzakis NG, Tzanakaki K, Economakis C (2011) Effect of origanum oil and vinegar on the maintenance of postharvest quality of tomato. Food Nutr Sci 2(09):974–982. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Walker DJ, Bernal MP (2008) The effects of olive mill waste compost and poultry manure on the availability and plant uptake of nutrients in a highly saline soil. Bioresour Technol 99(2):396–403. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wojdyło A, Oszmiański J, Czemerys R (2007) Antioxidant activity and phenolic compounds in 32 selected herbs. Food Chem 105(3):940–949. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Wuana RA, Okieimen FE (2011) Heavy metals in contaminated soils: a review of sources, chemistry, risks and best available strategies for remediation. International Scholarly Research Network. Volume 2011, Article ID 402647, 20 pagesGoogle Scholar
  54. Xu J, Yang L, Wang Z, Dong G, Huang J, Wang Y (2006) Toxicity of copper on rice growth and accumulation of copper in rice grain in copper contaminated soil. Chemosphere 62(4):602–607. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural Sciences, Biotechnology and Food Science, Faculty of Geotechnical Sciences and Environmental ManagementCyprus University of TechnologyLimassolCyprus

Personalised recommendations