Study on Soil Morphology, Classification, Suitability and Capability Classes of Selected Arable Crops on a Toposequence in Adamawa State, Nigeria

The study on soil morphology, classification, suitability and capability classification was carried out on Dabora-Yelwa toposequence with the view of improving soil management practices and increase the productive capacity of the farmers of the study area. Soil sampling units were delineated using GIS and the study area was categorized into 3 different slope positions on the toposequence and each slope position was recognized as a sampling unit. Two soil types were identified and classified into Typic Plinthustalfs (Yelwa and Sangba’a respectively) and Psammentic Paleudalfs (Dabora). Generally, structural development increased along the slope from upper slope to the lower slope position. Capability classification in the upper slope resulted in class C3 (IIIse) with limitations in texture and erosion hazards while the soils at the lower slope resulted in class C2 (IIsw). Suitability classification indicated that these soils were moderately suitable for sorghum at the upper slope while maize was marginally suitable with limitation in drainage. Measures such as land leveling, afforestation and use of cover crops will reduce the effect of erosion at the upper slope position.

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Infiltration Models Validation in a Sandy Loam Soil in Zing, Taraba State

Predicting the infiltration characteristics for soils is crucial for proper management and sustainable use of soil and water resources for prevention of soil erosion. The study was carried out to evaluate the infiltration models by measuring the field infiltration rate on sandy loam soils in Zing. Kostiakov, Modified – Kostiakov and Horton infiltration models were evaluated by comparing the measured and predicted infiltration rate of the soils. Fifteen infiltration runs were made by ponding water into double ring infiltrometer which was used to carry out the measurements. Parameters were developed from measured infiltration data and laboratory analyses of soil samples. Horton and Kostiakov models with an RMSE (0.0372 and 0.0365) and the R2 value of 0.999 and 0.998 respectively, closely predicted the measured infiltration rate, and can as well stimulate infiltration under the field conditions.

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Response of Improved Rainfed Rice Varieties to Low Soil Nitrogen

Nitrogen is one of the major essential plant nutrients and a key input required for better crop yields and therefore scarcity of nitrogen fertilizer has been a major constraint to rice production particularly in developing countries. Low soil fertility prevalent in farmer’s fields has led to low rice yields and the ever escalating fertilizer prices have made this important input unaffordable to most smallholder farmers who have limited resources for purchasing the required inputs. There has been concerted efforts to identify rice varieties that are tolerant to low soil nitrogen since varieties differ in their ability to impact productivity and some varieties can perform well under low nitrogen input.The Mwea Upland rice (MWUR) varieties have been bred under low fertilizer input environment while other authors have indicated that the New Rice for Africa (NERICA) gives high yields under low input conditions. There is therefore need to identify the superior rice varieties that are adaptable to low soil nitrogen levels. Thus, the objective of this study was to investigate the effects of different rates of nitrogen fertilizer on improved upland rice varieties and to identify the low input adaptable varieties. Field studies were conducted at Alupe in Western Kenya under rainfed upland conditions between August 2012 and April 2013. The experimental layout was split plot factorial in a Randomized Complete Block Design with three replicates. The main plot treatments were four rates of nitrogen fertilizer levels which were; 0 (control), 40, 80 and 120 kg ha-1 applied as calcium ammonium nitrate (26% N) in two equal splits; 21 days after sowing (DAS) and at panicle initiation (46 DAS). Sub-plots consisted of four MWUR varieties namely MWUR 1, MWUR 2, MWUR 3, MWUR 4; and four NERICA varieties namely NERICA 1, NERICA 4, NERICA 10 and NERICA 11. The parameters measured included plant height, tiller number, filled grain ratio percentage and yield components. In the study, nitrogen treatment showed significant effect on plant growth and the measured parameters increased significantly with increase in nitrogen level. MWUR varieties studied were more adaptable to low nitrogen conditions as compared to NERICA varieties. The NERICA varieties recorded higher yield at high nitrogen levels as compared to MWUR varieties. However, NERICA 4 gave higher yield as compared to other NERICA varieties regardless of the nitrogen level. Results from our study suggest that MWUR 1 and 2 and NERICA 4 were more tolerant to low nitrogen as compared to MWUR 3 and 4 and NERICA 1, 10 and 11, because of higher height, more tiller number, higher filled grain ratio percentage and higher yield component as compared to the other studied varieties and may be suitable for soils low in nitrogen.

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Towards Understanding Nutrient Transport in Celosia argentea L.

To better understand nutrient transport in vegetable, a pot experiment was carried out at the nursery site of the Department of Crop Production, Federal University of Technology, Minna (9°36’ N, 6°33’ E) Niger state, Nigeria. The study aimed at determining the effect of age of celosia plant at harvest on the yield and nutritional composition of the plant as well as the concentration of nutrients at different leaf positions. The experiment was a 3 x 3 factorial combination of three harvest periods (5, 7 and 9 weeks after sowing) and three leaf positions on the mother plant (upper, middle and basal) arranged in a completely randomized design. Harvested leaves were analysed for the nutritional composition. The results showed that the whole plant fresh weight, varied significantly (p<0.05) with the age of plant at harvest, having the maximum and the minimum values at 9 weeks after sowing (266.19 g/pot) and 5 weeks after sowing (96.12 g/pot) respectively. The leaf fresh weight and leaf dry weight followed the same trend with the whole plant fresh weight. Crude protein and Na reduced significantly (p<0.05) with the age of the plant with the highest values recorded at 5 weeks after sowing. Zn was highest at 7 weeks after sowing. K and Vit. C content were significantly higher at 9 weeks after sowing. Ca was highest at 9 weeks after sowing but there was no significant difference in the value obtained at 9 and 5 weeks after sowing. Higher values of Fe were obtained at 7 and 9 weeks after sowing. The Mg content was not significantly affected by the age at harvest. The middle leaves had significant higher content of Mg and Vit. C when compared to the basal leaves but there was no significant difference between the values obtained in upper and middle leaves. Significant (p<0.05) higher values of Ca, Fe, and crude protein were recorded in the basal leaves. There was no significant difference in the values of K, P, Na, Fat and Zn obtained at the different leaf positions.

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Optimizing Nitrogen Application in Onion (Allium cepa L.): Influence of Rate and Time of Topdressing on Growth, Yield and Quality

Onion (Allium cepa L.) is an important commercial vegetable crop grown by small-holder farmers in Kenya for both local and export markets. The national average production is low and quality is highly compromised due to use of low yielding varieties and poor agronomic practices. Field experiments on the influence of nitrogen and time of application on growth, yield, and quality of onion bulbs were conducted in 2014 and 2015 at the National Agricultural Research Laboratories. The experiments were laid out in a Randomized Complete Block Design (RCBD) with a split-split arrangement and replicated three times. Nitrogen (N) was applied as Calcium Ammonium Nitrate at five levels including, 0 (control), 26, 52, 78 and 104 kg N ha-1. These were applied at four different times of applications at three, six, nine and twelve weeks after transplanting. Two onion varieties popularly grown in Kenya were used, the Red Creole and Red Tropicana F1 hybrid. Nitrogen and time of application showed significant differences in all parameters studied except bolting. Nitrogen at 104 kg N ha-1 applied at 6 weeks gave the best results with regard to plant height, number of leaves, bulb ratios, bulb diameter, average bulb weight, yield and marketable yield. Six weeks after transplanting was the best application time with regard to most parameters and maturity of the crop. Yields increased linearly with increased N rates but declined by over 23% with late application at 12 weeks. High rates resulted to thick necks and increased split bulbs especially with late application at 9 and 12 weeks. Red Tropicana F1 hybrid was the best performing variety with regard to most parameters especially total and marketable yield. Nitrogen applied at the right time improves growth, increases yield and improves quality. Since the yield response was linear in both seasons, higher rates should be evaluated to get the optimal rate. Time of application equally affected growth, crop maturation and yield as well as yield components with late application negatively affecting these parameters. From this observation it is apparent that sufficient N is required early in the season. When it is deficient in the juvenile stage, rapid growth is restricted, resulting to loss of yield and poor quality bulbs. Thus it is essential that an optimum level of N is supplied early for maximum yield and improved bulb quality. The predicted optimum time of N application from this study was six weeks after transplanting. Nitrogen at 104 kg/ha applied at 6 weeks after transplanting gave the best growth, yield and quality of bulbs. Application of too much N late in the season (9 and 12 weeks) increased split bulbs and neck sizes. Excessive application late in the season (as farmers do) should be discouraged and avoided in the regime for best results. This shows that an optimal rate applied at the right time (4R’s of nutrient management) optimizes the efficiency of fertilizer use for good yields and hence profitability. Although hybrid seed was expensive, the yield obtained was high and quality was fairly good. The Red Tropicana F1 hybrid obtained maximum yield of 30,533 kg/ha at 104 kg N/ha applied at 3 weeks while the Red Creole obtained a maximum yield of 24,674 kg/ha with the same level applied at the same time. To improve production and marketability, Kenyan farmers should adopt the hybrids.

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Effect of Bagging Time on Fruit Yield and Quality of Red Pitaya (Hylocereus spp.) Fruit in Vietnam

The experiment was conducted to evaluate the effect of bagging time on fruit yield and quality of Red Pitaya H14 cultivar. The experiment consisted of control (without bagging), bagging fruit after 7 days anthesis, bagging fruit after 15 days anthesis by net screen-green bag (NS-GB) with bag size 320 x 260 mm and was designed in Randomized Complete Block Design with three replicates. Number of fruit, fruit quality, yield and fruit damage were recorded. Results indicated that bagging fruit after 7 days anthesis markedly improved flesh fruit weight, fruit edible rate percentage, total soluble solid than the control treatment. Moreover, agging fruit after 7 days anthesis clearly reduced 10-20% fruit crack, fruit sunburn, fruit fly and fruit blemished as compared to control treatment. It was concluded that bagging fruit after 7 days anthesis had positive effect on enhancing fruit quality (total solube solid increase 15% as compared untreated control) and reduced fruit from insect pest and diseases for red pitaya cultivar under field condition in Cao Bang province, Vietnam.

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Short-Term Effects of Boiler Ash on Soil Microbial Population, Organic Carbon, Nitrogen Mineralization and Cowpea Biomass

Recycling boiler ash through the soil given their neutralizing capacity and phyto nutrient concentrations can also result in deterioration of soil quality parameters such as soil microbial biomass, communities, organic carbon and nitrogen mineralization, which in turn affects crop health, productivity, and soil sustainable productivity. The objective of this study was to assess modifications in soil pH, soil electrical conductivity, soil microbial population, organic carbon, nitrogen mineralization, and cowpea performance at 30, 60, and 90 days after planting in boiler ash (BA) alone, mixtures of BA with soil and poultry dropping (PM). The experiment was a completely randomized design conducted in a screen house for 90 days. The result shows that following a 30, 60 and 90 days’ incorporation period, BA alone or in mixtures with soil or PM significantly (p<0.5) increased soil pH and microbial activity but inhibit fungal growth and had little effect on cowpea biomass growth. The concentration of total organic carbon and NH4-N increased but NO3-N decreased relative to the un-amended soil. The effects were however found to be time and mixture ratio-specific. These results demonstrate that with proper selection of application rates, amendment of soils with BA may increase soil carbon, improve nitrogen mineralization and crop productivity and has the potentials to inhibit pathogenic fungi but unlikely to disrupt other microbiological processes in soil environments. Based on the conducted trial it can be stated that dumped boiler ash (100% BA) stabilize overtime and improved soil pH, microbial population, organic carbon and nitrogen mineralization. When mixed with soil or poultry droppings, organic C and N, N-supplying power (N mineralization), pH and microbial population in soil also increased, but the magnitude of increase varied with ratio of mixture. Our findings suggest enormous potential for the use of cowpea to reclaim abandoned ash ponds for agriculture and that soil quality and fertility can be improved with boiler ash.

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Response of Growth and Yield of Pineapple (Ananas comosus) on Spent Mushroom Substrates and Inorganic Fertilizer in South – South, Nigeria

Introduction: Pineapple (Ananas comosus) is a perennial crop and can be cultivated any time of the year, so long as soil moisture is available. The production of pineapple in south – south of Nigeria is constrained by low soil fertility due to continued cultivation without replenishment of the soil with any soil amendment materials. This has also led to reduction of crop yields in the region. Soil amendments are substances used for correcting the acidity or alkalinity of the soil which was as a result of high rainfall associated in the region.

Aim: The experiment on pineapple (Ananas comosus) was conducted in 2013 at the Teaching and Research Farm of Faculty of Agriculture, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria using soil enrichment materials. The experiment was aimed at comparing the best soil enrichment material that can enhance the production of pineapple in southern part of Nigeria.

Study Design: The experimental design used was a randomized complete block design in three (3) replications. 

Methodology: The soil enrichment materials used for the study were spent mushroom substrate (SMS), and inorganic fertilizer (NPK 15:15:15) and no treatment as control. The growth and yield attributes measured in the field included plant height, number of leaves, leaf area, length of leaves, number of fruits and fruits weight.

Results: These attributes increased significantly due to application of the soil enrichment materials which led to continuous supply of nutrients as against the control (no treatment) which gave lower values in all the growth and yield parameters measured. The results of the trial on growth parameter showed that spent mushroom substrate gave a significant difference (P<0.05) against the inorganic fertilizer used. On fruit production, it was observed that spent mushroom substrate and inorganic fertilizer did not show any significant difference (P>0.05), though a higher fruit yield of 6.7 (12.42 kg/plot) was obtained in SMS than in inorganic fertilizer (NPK 15:15:15) which had 6.0 (9.87 kg/plot).

Conclusion: Therefore, farmers in South-South of Nigeria are advised to plant pineapple using spent mushroom substrate more than inorganic fertilizer (NPK 15:15:15) as soil enrichment material for better growth and increase in yield.

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Growing Vegetables as a Means of Livelihood among Unemployed Youths – A Case Study of Southwest Nigeria

Most of the tropical youths are grossly unemployed or under employed yet they need basic necessity of life. Africa, especially Nigeria is endowed with forest resources that can be harnessed. Vegetables are common, cheap and have short life span. Animal manures are also cheap and environmental feasible that can be used to increase the yield of vegetables in depleted soils. Researches have shown that vegetables can attain optimum yield if properly managed. Safety regulations need to be followed in growing vegetables. The objectives of this review were to show that vegetable production all-round the year could alleviate the problem of unemployment, reduce certain chronic diseases that affect the populace through inadequate balanced diet as well as improving the standard of living of the masses in Africa.

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Assessment of Copper and Zinc Dynamics in the Soil – Plant System

The term heavy metal, when related to its impact on the life of the plant, almost always implies negative connotations. However, some heavy metals like copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn) are essential to maintain the metabolism of plant, and without them the plant would not be able to successfully complete its life cycle. The aim of this study was to examine the dynamics of Zn and Cu in the soil – plant system in intensive strawberry plantation on pseudogley soil in Northwestern Bosnia, area of Gradacac. The content of Zn and Cu in the examined soil, leaves and fruits of strawberries was determined by atomic absorption spectrophotometry. Zn and Cu contents (means +/- SEM) were 82.06 +/- 14.07 and 8.45 +/- 2.35 in soil, 100.34 +/- 4.61 and 0.41 +/- 0.11 in leaves, 91.72 +/- 6.32 and 0.32 +/- 0.18 in fruits expressed as mg/kg dry matter (DW), respectively. Uptake, translocation and accumulation of Zn in the leaves and fruits of strawberries was at a satisfactory level in accordance with the plant’s needs for this element, which was not the case when the dynamics of Cu was studied. Some of the main reasons for that were: a low Cu content in the examined soil, low mobility of Cu in the plant, and antagonistic relationship between Zn and Cu in soil.

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