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Three experiments were conducted in the Department of Crop Science Faculty of Agriculture, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, to evaluate three accessions of Moringa oleifera Lam as influenced by three poultry manure rates. The objectives of the research were to: evaluate four nursery media on seedling emergence; and determine the effects of three poultry manure rates on growth and yield of Moringa oleifera in pot and field experiments. Three accessions of Moringa oleifera were collected from Nsukka, Jos and Ibadan. The experiments were carried out in four different media, that is sawdust (100%), sawdust + poultry manure (2:1), top soil (100%) and top soil + poultry manure + river sand (3: 2: 1). Three rates of poultry manure were applied as follows, zero tones/ha, 5 t/ha and 10t/ha. The parameters measured included seedling emergence traits, root volume, dry matter and moisture content of leaves, pod, stem and root. The result showed that the sawdust media had significantly (P<0.05) higher values of percentage emergence. The co-efficient velocity of emergence of topsoil, sawdust and poultry manure were statistically similar. Jos accession recorded, significantly (P<0.05) the highest levels of percentage seedling emergence and co-efficient velocity of emergence. The unamended top soil had significantly (P<0.05) the highest values of traits. The Jos accession also had significantly (P<0.05), the highest values of percentage emergence (94%) but Nsukka accession had significantly (P<0.05) the highest value of co-efficient velocity of emergence. The 10 tons/ha recorded the longest days (11.67) to seedling emergence. The 10 t/ha had lower value of co-efficient velocity of germination while, 5 and 0 t/ha had similar values. Application of 10 t/ha poultry manure recorded growth and yield parameters that were significantly (P<0.05) higher than the values obtained from 0 and 5 t/ha. Nsukka accession recorded significantly (P<0.05) the highest values of growth (156.7cm) and yield parameters (3.33). The 5 t/ha had, significantly (P<0.05), the longest days to flowering and pod formation. The Nsukka accession showed significantly (P<0.05) lower days to flowering than others. The Ibadan accession had the highest value of pod moisture content but Jos had the highest value of pod dry matter content. The 10 t/ha had significantly (P<0.05) the highest value of pod moisture content but 0 t/ha had the highest value of pod dry matter content. Field growth performance evaluation showed that Nsukka accession treated with 5 t/ha had, significantly (P<0.05) the highest values for most of growth parameters measured. The soilless media produced the best result of seedling. The Nsukka and Jos accessions performed better than Ibadan. The planting of Moringa oleifera and application of high quantities of manure in the plastic pot and field can improve the growth and yield of Moringa oleifera.
Moringa oleifera Lam is a multipurpose tree belonging to the family Moringaceae. It is a native of India but is widely distributed in many tropical regions, in the pacific region (Aregheore, 2002), in West Africa (Freiberger et al., 1998; Locket et al., 2000) as well as Central America and the Caribbean (Ramachandran et al., 1980 and Foidl et al, 1999). In English, it is commonly known as Horseradish tree, Drumstick tree, Never Die tree, Moringa tree, West Indians call it Ben tree and Radish tree (Ramachandran et al., 1980). In Nigeria, it is commonly called Okwe Oyibo in Igbo, Zogallandi in Hausa and Ewe-igbale in Yoruba.
There are about thirteen (13) species of this plant but the most widely cultivated and popular among them is the genus Moringa oleifera. The crop is grown all over the country for its nutritious pods, leaves and flowers which are rich sources of proteins, vitamins and minerals (Rajkumar et al., 1973). In spite of its nutritional and medicinal importance, the crop still remains under- exploited (Peter, 1979). It can grow well on hillsides but is more frequently found growing on pasturelands or in river basins. It is fast growing tree and has been found to grow to 6-7m in one year in areas receiving less than 400mm mean annual rainfall (Odee, 1998). Agronomic trials with Moringa showed that the plant could grow well in hilly areas and soils of low fertility.
It is a perennial softwood with timber of low quality and for centuries has been advocated for traditional medicine and other industrial uses. All parts of the Moringa tree are edible and have been consumed by humans. According to Fuglie (1999), Moringa is used in alley cropping (biomass production), animal forage (leaves and treated seed-cake), biogas (from leaves) domestic clearing agent (crushed leaves), blue dye (wood), fencing (living tree), gum (from tree trunks), honey and sugarcane juice clarifier (powedered seeds), honey (flower nectar) medicine (all plant parts), as ornamental plant, biopesticides (soil incorporation of leaves to prevent seedling damping off), pulp (wood) rope (bark), tannin for tanning hides (bark and gum), water purification (powedered seeds). Seeds of Moringa are used for oil extraction and curing provider (Golh, 1998). It has been used in salads, machine lubrication, and in the manufacture of perfume and hair care products (Tsaknis, 1999). This tree, has in recent times, been advocated as an outstanding indigenous source of highly digestible protein, calcium, iron, vitamin C and
carotenoids suitable for utilization in many of the so-called “developing” regions of the world where undernourishment is a major concern.
Moringa oleifera has been found to exhibit antimicrobial and antifungal properties. The Moringa leaves and roots are used to treat high blood pressure, diabetes, typhoid fever, urinary tract infection, staphylococcus infection, dysentery and diarrhea (Fahey, 2005). Extract from the root is used externally as a stain tonic in treatment of epilepsy, nervous disorders, hysteria and hypoprotection (Pan and Kumar, 2002).
Nursery operations in Nigeria are in most cases, subsistence. However, there are few fairly organized standard nursery setups in colleges and agricultural establishments. The nursery operations involve different media. Nursery potting media influence quality of seedlings produced thereof (Baiyeri, 2005, Sakin et al., 2005, Agbo and Omaliko, 2006). The quality of seedlings obtained from a nursery influences reestablishment in the field (Baiyeri 2006) and the eventual productivity of an orchard (Baiyeri and Ndubuizu, 1994). The traditional nursery potting medium in Nigeria is topsoil dug up from farmland and amended with poultry manure. Digging up agricultural soils will not only render the land unproductive for cropping, but will also make the land prone to erosion and other forms of degradation (Baiyeri, 2006). The case of soiless potting media is a common practice in the developed countries. The quality of seedlings obtained is influenced by the composition of media used (Corti et al., 1998, Wilson et al., 2001, Sahin et al., 2005, Baiyeri, 2003).
Moringa oleifera is not widely cultivated in Nigeria as other perennial crops. Most people in Nigeria plant it as a fence in their compound. Just like other perennials, manure application is essential to obtain good yield. Beaulah (2001) observed improved growth and performance of Moringa oleifera plant due to the application of organic manure and fertilizers. The objectives of this study therefore were:
1. To evaluate four nursery media on seedling emergence.
2. To determine the effect of poultry manure on growth of three accession of Moringa oleifera raised in the plastic pots, and.
3. To determine the optimum level of poultry manure which will enhance growth and yield of Moringa oleifera plant grown in the field.
2.1 Botany of Moringa Oleifera
Moringa oleifera is a small deciduous tree with sparse foliage, often resembling a leguminous species at a distance, especially when in flower. It is a fast growing and drought resistant plant. It is also a perennial tree which can reach a maximum height of 7-12m and a diameter of 20-40cm at chest height (Becker, et al 2001). The stem is normally straight but it is occasionally poorly formed. The tree grows with a short, straight stem that reaches a height of 1.5 to 3m before it begins to branch. The extended branches grow in a disorganized manner and the canopy is umbrella shaped. The leaves are alternate, twice or thrice pinnate. Leaves grow mostly at the branch tips. They are 20-70cm long, grayish-downy when young. They have long petioles. With 8-10 pairs of pinnate leaves each bearing two pairs of opposite, elliptic or oborate leaflets and one at the apex, with the glands at the bases of the petioles and pinnae (Morton, 1991).
The flowers, which are pleasantly fragrant, and 2.5cm wide are produced profusely in axillary dropping panicles which are 10-25cm long. They are white or cream colored and yellow-dotted at the base. The five reflexed sepals are linear-lanceolate. The five petals are slender-spatulate. They surround the five stamens and five staminodes and are reflexed except for the lowest (Morton. 1991). The fruit pods are three lobed which hang down from the branches and are round with a brownish semi-permeable seed hull. The hull itself has three white wings that run from top to bottom at 120 degree interval. Each tree can produce between 15, 000 and 35,000 seeds/year, (Ferrao and Ferrao, 1970). The average weight per seed is 0.3g and the kernel to hull ratio is 3:5 (Marker and Becker, 1997). Viable seeds of Moringa oleifera germinate within two weeks. Moringa oleifera plant carries out vegetative reproduction by stem cutting.
Moringa tree grows in semi-arid tropical and subtropical areas and grows best in dry sandy or loamy soil; it tolerates poor soil including coastal areas (Palada, 1996). It is a drought resistant pioneer species but does not tolerate water logging, this is because the roots have a tendency to rot, therefore they can be planted on small hills to minimize water runoff. Presence of long taproots makes them resistant to periods of drought (Odee,
1998). They are distributed in Nigeria, Sri Lanka. Mexico, Malaysia, Philippines, Ghana, Senegal, etc (Aubarassau et al., 2001).
2.3 Propagation and Management
Moringa oleifera is easily established by cutting or seeds. No seed pretreatment is required and seed, germinate readily in 1-2 weeks. The propagation or reproduction of Moringa plants is either sexual or asexual. Sexual propagation is by seeds resulting from the fertilization of ovules and often an exchange of genetic material through crop pollination (Rice et al., 1990). Seed is either sown directly in the field at the onset of the rainy season or planted in the nursery. Propagation by stem cutting is the most commonly used method of propagation for many woody and herbaceous plants (Evans, 1999). Stem cuttings are classified based on the age of the wood from which they are taken. There are hardwood, semi-hardwood and softwood (Rice et al., 1990 and Evans, 1999). The semi-hardwood cuttings are usually prepared from partially mature wood of the current seasons growth while softwood cuttings are prepared from soft, succulent new growth of Moringa plant.
Seed dormancy and germination are adaptive features of plants. The Moringa seed is influenced by a large number of genetic and environmental factors (Koorneef et al., 2002). Baskin (2002) showed that physiological dormancy of seed is the most common class of seed dormancy. Dormancy of seed regulates germination rates and vigor in seedling, which farmers rely on. Williams (2004) inferred that germination rates below 70% are associated with poor seed vigour. Germination of Moringa oleifera takes 3-14 days and improves with watering.
Nursery operations in Nigeria are in most cases, subsistence. However, there are few fairly organized standard nursery setups in colleges and agricultural establishments. The nursery operations involve different media. Nursery potting media influence quality of seedlings produced thereof (Baiyeri, 2005, Sakin et al., 2005, Agbo and Omaliko, 2006). The quality of seedlings obtained from a nursery influences reestablishment in the field (Baiyeri 2006) and the eventual productivity of an orchard (Baiyeri and Ndubuizu, 1994). The traditional nursery potting medium in Nigeria is topsoil dug up from farmland and amended with poultry manure. Digging up agricultural soils will not only render the
land unproductive for cropping, but will also make the land prone to erosion and other forms of degradation (Baiyeri, 2006). The case of soiless potting media is a common practice in the developed countries. The quality of seedlings obtained is influenced by the composition of media used (Corti et al., 1998, Wilson et al., 2001, Sahin et al., 2005, Baiyeri, 2003).
Ekwu and Mbah (2001) reported on the relative importance of soiless media for growing potted ornamental plants in Nigeria. Baiyeri (2005) evaluated three soiless media for weaning banana plantlets. The study showed that most of the genotypes evaluated grew into high quality seedlings when grown in Rice Hull (RH) composted with poultry manure (PM) compared to those grown in sawdust (SD) composted with PM or rice hull + sawdust + poultry manure (RH + SD + PM).
Pinching the terminal bud on the central leader stem is necessary when it attains a height of 75cm (two months after sowing). This will promote the growth of many lateral branches and reduce the height of the tree. Pinching reduces the damage due to heavy wind and makes harvesting much easier. Vijayakumar et al (2000) found that early pinching of growing tips carried out 60 days after sowing supports a higher yield.
Moringa trees are generally grown successfully without fertilizers but trenches can be dug about 10cm from trees during the rainy season and filled with green leaves, manure and ash and then covered with soil. This is said to promote higher fruit yields (Ramachandra et al., 1980). If fertilizers were to be applied, the crop requires 44:18:30g NPK/tree at the time of pinching (Suthanthirapandian et al., 1989).
Beaulah (2001) integrated nutrient management in annual Moringa encompassing organic manures, bio-fertilizers and varying levels of N, P and K. The results showed a positive response of Moringa to the application of manure and fertilizers. Growing Moringa plants may not require watering except during hot weather when they may be irrigated once in a week. Annual Moringa responds well to irrigation and the yield can be doubled by drip irrigation as compared to rain fed crops (Rajakrishanamoorthy et al., 1994).
2.4 Utilization of Moringa
2.4.1 Human Consumption of Moringa
All Moringa food products have very high nutritional value. You can eat the leaves, especially young shoot, young pods, flowers, roots and in some species even the bark. Moringa trees have been used to combat malnutrition, especially among infants and nursing mothers (Fahey, 2005). The young leaves are edible and are commonly cooked, eaten like spinach or used to make soups and salads. Protein content of leaves is high (20-35% on a dry weight basis). Most important is that the protein is of high quality having significant quantities of all the essential amino acids. Moringa leaves also contain high quantities of nutrients (per l00g fresh weight): Vitamin A (75641U), Vitamin C (51
.7mg), calcium (185mg) and potassium (337mg) (Foidl and Paul, 2008). Moringa leaves contain more Vitamin A than carrots, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach, more Vitamin C than orange and more potassium than banana and the protein quality of Moringa leaves rivals that of milk and eggs (Fuglie, 1999, 2000). In Africa, 25g of Moringa powder is administered to pregnant women daily to improve prenatal nutrition (Diatta, 2001).
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