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Revista mexicana de ciencias agrícolas

versão impressa ISSN 2007-0934

Rev. Mex. Cienc. Agríc vol.8 no.5 Texcoco Jun./Ago. 2017 

Investigation notes

Comparative study of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) culturing under different fertilization schemes

Edgar Esteban Bustos Barrera1 

María Solís Oba1  § 

Rigoberto Castro Rivera1 

Erik Ocaranza Sánchez1 

Lilia Tapia López1 

Laura Jeannette García Barrera1 

Aida Solís Oba2 

1Instituto Politécnico Nacional-Centro de Investigación en Biotecnología Aplicada. Carretera Estatal Santa Inés Tecuexcomac-Tepetitla km 1.5. Tepetitla de Lardizábal, Tlaxcala, México. CP. 90700. Tel. fax: 01 (248) 48 70765. (;;;;

2Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Unidad Xochimilco. Calzada del Hueso 1100. Colonia Villa Quietud, Coyoacán, Cd. México. CP. 04960. Tel. 01 (55) 54837255.(


The use of various fertilizers, chemical, organic or biofertilizers has been formulated and reported; however, most producers have focused on the use of agrochemicals, causing environmental problems. The aim of this paper was to evaluate various fertilizers on germination and production of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) and its production cost. Evaluated fertilizers were bioles of anaerobic digestion of cow and pig manures, Azospirillum brasilense, and three commercial products (Regena, Nubiotek and Agromil). The experiment was carried out in 2014 under greenhouse conditions, in Tepetitla de Lardizábal, Tlaxcala. It began from tomato cuttings of three months age, every 10 days each treatment was applied in a foliar way and the irrigation to maintain the humidity of field. The best treatment was obtained with biol obtained from the digestion of cow manure, higher yield and lower production cost were obtained by using it (12.9 kg m2 tomato, $0.60 MN kg respectively); followed by the fertilization system used by the producer (Regena with Nubiotek) which was of 11.98 kg m-2 tomato, with a production cost of $ 0.64 MN kg. The use of anaerobic digestion has several advantages, it helps to reduce contamination by the inadequate disposal of manures, and allows the obtaining of biogas combustible for the greenhouses heating. The application of simple procedures, such as anaerobic digestion, are economic and environmentally friendly alternatives to treat agricultural residues and obtain products of agronomic interest.

Keywords: Azospirillum brasilense; anaerobic digestion; biol; fertilizers; tomato


Se han formulado y reportado el uso de diversos fertilizantes, químicos, orgánicos o biofertilizantes; sin embargo, la generalidad de los productores se ha enfocado más al uso de los agroquímicos, siendo que ocasionan problemas ambientales. El objetivo de este trabajo fue evaluar diversos fertilizantes en la germinación y producción de jitomate (Solanum lycopersicum L.), así como su costo de producción. Los fertilizantes evaluados fueron bioles de la digestión anaeróbica de estiércoles de vaca y cerdo, Azospirillum brasilense, y tres productos comerciales (Regena, Nubiotek y Agromil). El experimento se llevó a cabo en 2014 bajo condiciones de invernadero, en Tepetitla de Lardizábal, Tlaxcala. Se partió de esquejes de jitomate de tres meses de edad, cada 10 días se aplicó de manera foliar cada tratamiento y el riego para mantener la humedad de campo. El mejor tratamiento fue el biol obtenido de la digestión de estiércol de vaca, con éste se obtuvo mayor rendimiento y menor costo de producción (12.9 kg m-2 de jitomate, $0.60 MN kg respectivamente); seguido del sistema de fertilización que utiliza el productor (Regena con Nubiotek), fue de 11.98 kg m-2 de jitomate, con un costo de producción de $0.64 MN kg. El uso de la digestión anaeróbica tiene varias ventajas, ayuda a reducir la contaminación por la inadecuada disposición de los estiércoles, y permite la obtención de biogás combustible para el calentamiento de los invernaderos. La aplicación de procedimientos sencillos, como la digestión anaeróbica, son alternativas económicas y ambientalmente amigables para tratar los residuos agropecuarios y obtener productos de interés agronómico.

Palabras clave: Azospirillum brasilense; biol; digestión anaeróbica; fertilizantes; jitomate


In order to meet the food demand of the growing population, an excessive use of fertilizers has occurred, mainly chemicals, adversely affecting soil and microbiota. However there are environmentaly friendly alternatives, such as fertilizers and biofertilizers, such as composts or biol. The latter is the effluent resulting from anaerobic digestion (DA). The DA is a process of microbial degradation that helps the decomposition of organic waste transforming them into assimilable substances for plants (Kelleher et al., 2000) plus the biogas is produced, which if it contains more than 45% methane may be used as fuel.

Currently, biol is considered one of the most important products of DA, since it is notable as an improvement of soil’s physical, chemical and biological conditions and increase crop yield (Potschka, 2012). Its composition depends on several factors but on average can be estimated in 2-3% of nitrogen, 1-2% of phosphorus, 1% of potassium (Herrero, 2008). The use of biol makes it possible to regulate the nutrition of the plant and to strength it, so there is a higher yield of the crop. It allows the intensive use of the soil by improving its quality (Aparcana and Jansen, 2008).

On the other hand the biofertilizantes, are products that contain microorganisms that help the vegetal development, the most used are the plant growth promoting bacteria (PGPB) by its abbreviations. These favor plant growth through several mechanisms, such as mineral and nutrient solubilisation, nitrogen fixation and phytoregulator synthesis (Bashan and de-Bashan, 2010). Among the bacteria genera that have been used as biofertilizers there are Azospirillum, Azotobacter, Bacillus, Micrococcous, Pseudomonas and Serratia.

Study zone

This research was carried out in the facilities of Grupo Xonacatzy, tomato producers in the municipality of Tepetitla de Lardizábal in Tlaxcala.

Analytical methods

The pH was measured with a potentiometer (conductronic pH120). Biogas production was measured according to Boe et al. (2010). The methane content was quantified by gas chromatography, using a thermal conductivity detector (TCD) and a HP-Plot Q capillary column.


The biofertilizer used was a strain of Azospirillum brasilense Cd collection donated by the Soil microbiology laboratory of the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla (BUAP). Agromil plus ( htm) and the one used by the producer where the experiment was performed: Regena MIN HL 15 ( and Nubiotek-RFZ (

Anaerobic digestion process

120 L plastic digesters were used, with 7% dry basis solids and 70% capacity. One digester was fed with cow manure and another with pig manure. The air was extracted with a vacuum pump and then sealed, kept in the greenhouse for 78 days. The pH, biogas production and its methane content were measured every week. When the process ended it was filtered to obtain the biol and germination rate was determined according to Zucconi et al. (1981).

Cultivation of tomato

Beds of 15 m long * 0.2 m high * 0.3 m wide were used, plants cuttings of 3 months old were placed at 30 cm, the following treatments were applied every 10 days on a foliar way: a) biol of cow manure 500 ml at 50%; b) biol of pig manure 500 ml at 50%; c) Regena at a single dose of 2 kg m-3 was applied, subsequently 500 ml of Nubiotek at a concentration of 15 ml in 13 L of water were applied every 10 days. This is the fertilization system used by the tomato producer where this research was carried out; d) 1% Agromil, 500 ml dose; and e) Azospirillum brasilense at a concentration of 4*107 UFC ml-1. As control, a bed without adding any substance was used. Irrigation was performed by dripping in a pithy manner. From day 49 until 140 days the tomato was harvested and weighed as it was ripe, that is, completely red.


pH variation, biogas and methane production

Figure 1 shows the pH values, accumulated biogas and methane percentage obtained during the anaerobic digestion of cow manure. The initial pH was 6.82, it decreased during the first two weeks due to the hydrolytic and acidogenic stages, then it increased and ended with a value of 7.95; during the whole process the pH was higher than 6.5, which is within the limits indicated by Varnero (2011) for the proper operation of a biodigester, which are of 6.5 to 8. 244.805 L of biogas were obtained during the 78 days, with a percentage of recorded minimum methane of 14.8% and a maximum of 55.5% (week 5). In the first 3 weeks, the percentage of methane registered was low (14 to 20%), from week 4 the methane content in the biogas increased, coinciding with the increase in the pH value, indicating the consumption of acids for the production of acetate and later of methane. pH values are similar to those reported by Rico et al. (2011) who obtained initial pH of 6.9 and final of 7.8, submitting cow manure to DA, they obtained biogas with a methane percentage of approximately 65%.

Figure 1 Biogas production, methane and pH values during the DA process of cow manure. 

Figure 2 shows the variation of these same parameters but for the case of the anaerobic digestion of pig manure. The initial pH was 6.36, during the first two weeks it decreased due to the acids formation, subsequently it increased when these were consumed for the following stages of anaerobic digestion; however, the pH generally remained below 6.5, which affected the methanogenic bacteria and thus the formation of methane, since methanogenic bacteria at pH less than 6.5 are inhibited (Marchaim, 1992). A total biogas production of 188.675 L was obtained during the 78 days, with a minimum recorded methane percentage of 10.7% and a maximum of 17.4%. Menard et al. (2011) used batch digesters fed with pig manure, obtaining a methane percentage of 13.88%, a percentage that resembles that obtained in this research.

Figure 2 Biogas and methane production and pH values during the DA process of pig manure. 

The germination index (IG) indicates whether the material evaluated has phytotoxic substances or not, according to Zucconi (1981), a material will not be phytotoxic if its IG is greater than 80% and will be a promoter of plant growth if this value is greater than 120%. Table 1 shows the IG obtained with the biol from both manures.

Table 1 Germination index (IG) obtained with both biols. 

Concentrations of 5 and 10% were non-phytotoxic and in the case of biol of cow manure, it was a promoter of root growth, so it can be used for irrigation. Young et al. (2012) evaluated the phytotoxicity of a digestate based on cow manure and reported stimulation in root growth at concentrations of 25%, it was non-phytotoxic at 50% concentrations and inhibitory at 100% concentrations.

Tomato production

The fruit was harvested and weighed as it reached maturity, the treatments where the bioles were applied were the first where the fruits reached maturity, which is an indication of the presence of substances that stimulate fruit maturation, the highest yield with both bioles was recorded between 108 and 129 with a maximum at 118 days. Azospirillum showed high yields between 108 and 140 days, with maximum at 118. Regena and Nubiotek treatment showed maximum yield between 108 and 140 days, with the maximum at 129 days. With the addition of Agromil the maximum was reached at 140 days. In all cases, more product was obtained compared to the control. Figure 3 shows the specific production of tomato.

Figure 3 Specific production of tomato for each treatment. 

Table 2 summarizes the total tomato production obtained with each treatment, as well as the cost of production. With the biol obtained from the anaerobic digestion of cow manure, the lowest cost and the highest tomato production were obtained, which was 8% higher than using the fertilizer system used by the producer. The second highest yield was obtained with the use of Azospirillum; as well as, applying Regena plus Nubiotek, but the application cost of the biofertilizer was higher, followed by the yield obtained with the application of the pig biol and Agromil. Being greater in all the cases compared to the obtained without the addition of fertilizer.

Table 2 Yield and tomato production cost. 


The use of cow manure to undergo the DA process is highly recommended, since biogas fuel is obtained, which can be used to heat the greenhouses and to obtain a good organic fertilizer that would increase agricultural yield and would lower the costs.

Additionally the application of effluent from anaerobic digestion of animal manures would bring environmental advantages since the contamination produced by its improper disposal would be reduced.

Literatura citada

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Received: March 2017; Accepted: April 2017

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