Growth and yield response of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) as influenced by compost, biochar and micronutrients on an alfisol
Keywords:Synthetic fertilisers, detrimental impacts, eco-friendly alternatives, nutrient use efficiency, fruit yield
In Nigeria tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) is known for its health benefits, but yields are low, due to poor soil fertility and paucity of information on fertiliser use. This, together with the detrimental impacts of synthetic fertilisers on soil fertility and productivity requires a critical search for eco-friendly alternatives. Studies were conducted on organic sources, such as compost, biochar and micronutrients in greenhouse pot and field trials. The pot experiment was a randomised block with three replications; treatments consisted of biochar and compost applied each at 15, 30, 45 and 60 kg N/ha, and micronutrients concentration at 1, 2 and 3 L/ha each applied one, two and three times after transplanting; each treatment had a control without any fertiliser application. The results of the pot experiment indicated 45 kg N/ha and 30 kg N/ha as the optimum application rates obtained from compost and biochar, respectively; while optimum micronutrient concentration was 1 L/ha applied twice. The field experiment consisted of a control together with the optimum rates (as determined from the pot experiment) of biochar, compost, micronutrients and their combinations; it was laid out in a randomised block design with three replications. The field experiment results indicated that the combined effects of biochar + compost enhanced plant height and number of leaves more than other fertiliser treatments, although, the effect was not significantly (P > 0.05), different, from that obtained, from biochar + compost + micronutrients. The combined effects of biochar + compost + micronutrients fertiliser, positively influenced early flowering and fruiting, produced the highest fruits weight, biomass yield, fruit yield, nutrient uptake and nutrient use efficiency (P ≤ 0.05), more than the other treatments. The result established that for optimum growth and economically higher yield, the tomato crop may be fertilised with biochar at 30 kg N/ha and compost at 45 kg N/ha. Also, micronutrients optimum concentration of 1 L/ha applied twice should be used for growth and yield of tomato.