Use of Gelatin Capsules as a Form of Seed Enhancement in Tomato
Seed enhancements involve post-harvest modifications of seeds intended to improve germination and plant performance. This includes seed modifications that facilitates the delivery of other plant-benefiting components (e.g., nutrients or plant protectants). This study considers the use of tomato-seed encapsulation as a possible extension of seed coatings. Placing seeds within gelatin capsules offers potential benefits including space for greater volumes of additives, separation between protectant chemicals and seeds, diminished human exposure to agrochemicals, and improved uniformity for mechanical planters. Therefore, the objectives of this study were to determine to what degree seed encapsulation alters plant emergence, affects plant performance, and serves as a possible delivery-system for controlled-release fertilizers. The results suggest that seed encapsulation may delay initial plant emergence by one day, and between one and two days for fertilizer treatments. Gelatin capsules alone improved early root development, promoted plant growth, and increased fruit production; indicative of gelatin’s biostimulant properties. The addition of controlled-release fertilizers (especially Florikan) appeared to provide greater aboveground, belowground, and total plant mass, and higher fruit yield. The results of this study support the notion that seed encapsulation can improve tomato performance, and that other component(s) can be successfully delivered to provide additional plant benefits.
Enhanced Plant Performance in Tomato through Seed Encapsulation with Controlled-Release Fertilizers
Tomatoes are among the most widely grown vegetable crop in the world, with more than 5-million hectares of land dedicated to its cultivation. To enhance production, many growers use conventional fertilizers which also contribute to non-point source pollution. While there are a variety of methods used to administer fertilizers to crops, some require expensive equipment, are labor intensive, or apply fertilizers that are not efficiently used by plants. This study considered an alternative approach that delivered controlled-released fertilizers to tomatoes using gelatin capsules; wherein both seed and fertilizer were placed together and planted as a single unit. The objectives were to determine if seed encapsulation altered seedling emergence and influenced growth, while also considering the possible use of encapsulation to deliver controlled-release fertilizers. In general, seed encapsulation had minimal impact on seedling emergence. Encapsulated plants were taller with greater biomass, than seed-only controls. While capsule treatments (without fertilizers) were taller than controls, the addition of fertilizers improve plant performance, with higher fertilizer content fostering greater plant growth. The results suggest that seed encapsulation may be an effective way to deliver fertilizers, and that the combination of capsules and controlled-release fertilizer could possibly lead to a reduction in the quantity of fertilizers necessary for tomato cultivation.
Investigate the advantages of seed encapsulation with conventional and/or controlled release fertilizers on crop plants.
Consider the advantages of including plant biostimulants (e.g., gelatin) with encapsulated seeds on germination and plant growth.
Evaluate the possibility of including plant hormones (e.g., gibberellic acid) and other plant growth regulators along with encapsulated seeds.
Employ the capsules as a delivery platform for seeds with moisture attractive (e.g., hydrogel polymers) and repulsive agents.
Develop a delivery platform for bacterial inoculum (e.g., rhizobium) that involves seed encapsulation.
Investigate the role of encapsulating micronutrient additives and their effects on crop plant growth and performance.
Consider the importance of encapsulating beneficial fungi (e.g., mycorrhiza) with seeds.
Evaluate the use of seed encapsulation with chemical additives as a means to minimize human contact with agrochemicals.
Evaluate the possibility of encapsulating seeds with time-delay agents and agrochemicals to prolong the activity of that chemical.
Employ encapsulation as a possible delivery mechanism for seeds and pesticides (e.g., nematicides) including controlled release pesticides.
Explore the possibility of using seed encapsulation as a means to prolong seed viability and storability.
Consider the use of seed encapsulation with agrochemicals (pesticides and fertilizers) as a means to reduce chemical loads on farmlands, through precise application and optimal dosing.