EFFECTS OF PELLETED AND UNPELLETED COMPOSTED ORGANIC MATERIALS ON THE GROWTH AND YIELD OF THREE VARIETIES OF CUCUMBER (Cucumis sativus L.)

EFFECTS OF PELLETED AND UNPELLETED COMPOSTED ORGANIC MATERIALS ON THE GROWTH AND YIELD OF THREE VARIETIES OF CUCUMBER (Cucumis sativus L.)

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ABSTRACT

The main objective of this study is to determine the effects of the pelleted and unpelleted composted organic materials on the growth and yield of three varieties of cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.). The specific objectives were to: determine the physical and chemical properties of pelleted and unpelleted composted organic materials, determine the effects of pelleted and unpelleted composted organic materials on the growth and yield of three varieties of cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) and evaluate the effects of unpelleted composted rice husks + poultry manure (75%:25%, v/v) rates on the growth and yield of three varieties of cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.). Three experiments were undertaken at the Teaching and Research Farm of the Department of Crop Science, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Experiment one was a laboratory analysis to determine the physical and chemical properties of pelleted and unpelleted composted organic materials. Experiment two was done in the greenhouse as a 3 × 13 factorial trial in a completely randomized design (CRD) with three replications. The treatments were three varieties of cucumber (Poinsett, Marketer and Supermarketer) and unpelleted composted rice husks (100%), unpelleted composted moringa pod husks (100%), unpelleted composted maize cobs (100%), unpelleted composted rice husks + poultry manure (75%:25%, volume to volume; v/v), unpelleted composted moringa pod husks + poultry manure (75%:25%, v/v), unpelleted composted maize cobs + poultry manure (75%:25%, v/v), pelleted composted rice husks (100%), pelleted composted moringa pod husks (100%), pelleted composted maize cobs (100%), pelleted composted rice husks + poultry manure (75%:25%, v/v), pelleted composted moringa pod husks + poultry manure (75%:25%, v/v), pelleted composted maize cobs + poultry manure (75%:25%, v/v), top soil (control). Experiment three was done in the field as a 3 × 4 factorial laid out in a randomized complete block design (RCBD) with three replications. Twelve treatment combinations consisting of three cucumber varieties (Poinsett, Marketer and Supermarketer) and four rates (0 t ha -1, 5 t ha -1, 10 t ha -1 and 15 t ha-1) of unpelleted composted rice husks + poultry manure (75%:25%, volume to volume; v/v) were used. The physical properties of pelleted and unpelleted composted organic materials revealed that the top soil significantly (p < 0.05) gave a higher bulk density value of 1.21 g cm-3 compared with pelleted and unpelleted composted organic materials. Total porosity and available water holding capacity were significantly (p < 0.05) higher in the unpelleted composted rice husks (100%). The chemical properties showed that the organic matter content of unpelleted composted maize cobs (100%) was significantly (p < 0.05) higher with a value of 26.48% compared with pelleted composted maize cobs (100%). Total nitrogen and carbon nitrogen ratio were significantly (p < 0.05) higher in unpelleted composted rice husks + poultry manure (75%:25%, v/v). The morphological growth traits (plant height, leaf area per plant, number of internodes per plant, number of leaves per plant, internode length per plant and stem girth per plant) and yield performances (root, stem, leaf dry weight, fruit length, fruit width, fruit girth, number of fruits per plant and total fresh fruit weight) of the three varieties of cucumber grown in soil amended with unpelleted composted rice husks + poultry (75%:25%, v/v) had significantly (p < 0.05) the highest values compared with the other treatments. The highest application rate of 15 t ha-1 gave significantly (p < 0.05) the highest values of total nitrogen (1.36%), available phosphorus (80.36 ppm), organic carbon (4.10%), organic matter content (7.07%), exchangeable potassium (0.38 meq/100 g), exchangeable calcium (5.80 meq/100 g) and exchangeable magnesium (4.30 meq/100 g) compared with the other rates. The correlation coefficient (r = 0.995**) between soil organic carbon and exchangeable calcium was the highest and the least was the association (r = 0.473) between exchangeable potassium and exchangeable magnesium.


INTRODUCTION

        One of the aboitic challenges facing crop production in the Tropics is the inherent low concentration of essential nutrients in the soil for crop growth and development (Schlecht et al., 2007). Essential nutrients are those nutrients which are required by plants to complete their  life cycle such as  Nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), potassium (K) often referred to as primary nutrients, calcium (Ca),  magnesium (Mg) and  sulphur (S) called secondary nutrients and Boron (B), Chlorine (Cl), copper(Cu), manganese (Mn), Iron (Fe), molybdenum (Mb) and Zinc (Zn) called micronutrients (Barker and Pilbeam, 2007). These nutrients can be provided to the soil through the use of fertilizers. Fertilizer can be in organic or inorganic form. The use of inorganic fertilizers has not been helpful as it is associated with increased soil acidity, leaching and nutrient imbalance (Schlecht et al., 2007). According to Ayoola and Makinde (2006) inorganic fertilizers are usually not available and are always rather expensive for the low-income, small scale farmers. Organic manure such as cow-dung, poultry manure, swine waste, sewage sludge, crop residue can be used as an alternative for inorganic fertilizer. The nutrient contained in organic manure is released more slowly and are stored for a long time. Manure application also increase soil porosity and aggregate stability, promotes soil water infiltration and holding capacity, elevates soil organic matter content, soil pH, cation exchange capacity and nutrient availability (Powell et al., 1996; 1999;Powell and Unger, 1998).

        However, the main defect in the use of organic nutrient source in crop production is the limited supply (amount) and bulkiness of organic materials. Composting is a management practice to improve manure efficiency or quality. Well managed compost has good agronomic properties such as good water holding capacity, light weight, small particle size. It is cheap and can easily supply nutrients to the crop (Miller and Norman, 1992).

        Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) is a vegetable crop eaten by most families in the Tropics. It is one of the most popular members of the Cucurbitaceae (vine crop) family. It is cultivated for fresh fruit which is locally consumed or exported to increase national income. The crop is cultivated in most parts of Northern Nigeria and some parts of Eastern Nigeria by peaseant farmers who lack information on some important cultural practices (Ekwu et al., 2007). Cucumber is a vital ingredient in vegetable salad in human nutrition. The fruit varies in shape, size and color. On analysis, mature fruit nutrient composition is 3.8 g dry matter, 0.6 g protein, 2.0 mg calcium, 0.4 mg riboflavin, 0.2 mg niacin and 11 mg vitamin. The fruit also serves as remedy in the treatment of constipation, jaundice and indigestion (Chadha, 2006).

        The production of this crop requires soil with high levels of organic matter content that can provide the essential nutrients and conditions needed for crop growth and development. There is paucity of information on the use of pelleted and unpelleted composted organic materials for the production of cucumber crop

The specific objectives of this work were to:

1.      determine the physical and chemical properties  of  pelleted and unpelleted composted organic   materials

2.      determine the effects of pelleted and unpelleted composted organic materials on the growth and yield of three varieties of cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.)

3.      evaluate the effects of unpelleted composted rice husks + poultry manure (75%:25%,v/v) rates on the growth and yield of three varieties of cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.)




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