OSC Activity C.8

Optimizing fertilization and irrigation management for a closed greenhouse organic tomato growing system

Activity Researchers

Name Affiliation
Martine Dorais, Lead Researcher

Research Scientist
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Horticulture Research and Development Centre
Envirotron Pavilion, Room 2120
Quebec City, QC G1K 7P4

Steeve Pépin, Co-applicant

Faculty of Agriculture and Food
Envirotron Pavillion, local 1228
Université Laval

Valérie Gravel, Collaborator

Associate Professor
Department of Plant Science
Université Laval

Martin Trépanier, Collaborator

Pavillon de l'Envirotron
Université Laval
2480 boul. Hochelaga
Québec, QC G1V 0A6

Claudine Ménard, Collaborator
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Horticulture Research and Development Centre
Envirotron Pavilion
Quebec City, QC G1K 7P4


  1. Adjust nitrogen and water supply according to plant physiological stage, soil biological activity (mineralization rate) and greenhouse climate;
  2. Reduce nitrogen and water emission into the environment by better nutrient and water management adjusted to plant needs;
  3. Evaluate the suitability of different cultivars for organic growing systems;
  4. Improve fruit quality by better fertilization and irrigation management;
  5. Characterize and assess compatibility of available certified organic fertilizers;
  6. Evaluate mineralization rates and nitrogen availability of those available certified organic fertilizers in the growing medium;
  7. Evaluate the sustainability of this organic growing system

Activity Summary

Even though some organic growers have achieved high yields, the main problem for most remains irrigation management and the relatively low mineralization rate in soil in terms of plant needs. Little information and few tools for irrigation and fertilization management are available for organic growers. The objective of this project is to characterize the nutrient release availability of various certified organic fertilizers and to improve irrigation and fertilization management in an organic growing system to fulfill, in real time, plant requirements.

The experiment, conducted over a three-year period (two growing seasons; December 2009 to March 2012) at the Productions Horticoles Demers (St-Nicolas), will compare three growing media: a third-year peat-based growing medium, a peat-based growing medium containing clay and a muck soil. In the first year of the experiment (1st crop: December 2009 to November 2010), two different rootstock cultivars (Beaufort and Maxifort) will be compared to identify the cultivar most suited for organic growing systems. Organic fertilization will be based on growing medium and soil solution analysis of each growing system. Greenhouse effluents will be collected and will be recirculated directly without being treated. In the greenhouse, climate parameters, plant growth, fruit yield and fruit quality will be monitored. In the second year of the project (December 2010 to November 2011), the experiment will be repeated in the same media with the two cultivars.