RESPONSE OF LEAF AMARANTH (AMARANTHUS CRUENTUS) TO NITROGEN FROM CHICKEN MANURE AND DEFOLIATION FREQUENCY IN A SEMI-ARID ENVIRONMENT OF SOUTH AFRICA
Leaf Amaranth is a common indigenous food plant with a high potential to improve the nutritional security, especially, of rural households in South Africa. However, research on this crop has been scanty and there is dearth of information on its cultivation and management practices. A field study was conducted at the North West University farm during the 2002/03 crop season to determine growth and yield of Amaranthus cruentus in response to nitrogen supplied from chicken manure and defoliation frequency (weekly and fortnightly). Increasing the rate of manure N application significantly improved (P<0.05) growth and dry matter yields of edible leaves over the control. Differences among the manure rates were small at the beginning of the harvesting period but became more apparent towards the end, suggesting higher N release due to mineralization of the manure. The cumulative leaf dry matter yields of amaranth that were defoliated weekly were significantly lower (P<0.05) than those defoliated fortnightly. The study confirms that chicken manure is an important resource that can be used by resource poor farmers to supply nutrients and improve productivity of this less conventional crop. It is recommended that a bi-weekly harvesting interval should be adopted in order to ensure high yields. Furthermore, intensive advocacy needs to be undertaken in order to promote the integration of this nutritionally rich indigenous plant species into existing cropping systems in this semi-arid region.
Materechera, S.A. and Mukwevho, T.N. (2007). RESPONSE OF LEAF AMARANTH (AMARANTHUS CRUENTUS) TO NITROGEN FROM CHICKEN MANURE AND DEFOLIATION FREQUENCY IN A SEMI-ARID ENVIRONMENT OF SOUTH AFRICA. Acta Hortic. 752, 499-504
Indigenous foods, nutritional security, edible leaves, soil nutrient supply, cropping systems