Innovative, sustainable practices to enhance quality and yield of tomato and pepper, main solanaceous fruit crops
Bonga Ngcobo is a senior PhD student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, in the Discipline of Horticultural Science. He holds a BSc Agric and Masters (cum laude) from the same University. Currently he is in the final stages of his doctoral studies under the supervision of Professor Isa Bertling and Dr. Alistair Clulow. Bonga’s research focuses on using innovative and environmentally friendly treatments, such as LEDs, moringa, and heat treatment, to enhance growth, yield and nutritional quality of solanaceous (nightshade) crops. Bonga has published several articles in peer reviewed journals as well as in conference proceedings. The objective of his current research on the quality of two solanaceous crops, tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and pepper (Capsicum annuum), is to enhance health-related compounds, such as lycopene, β-carotene, capsanthin, capsorubin, and vitamin C in the fruit. Bonga evaluated the effect of combining moringa leaf powder (MLP) and synthetic fertilisers to improve growth and yield parameters, as well as nutritional quality, of tomatoes and peppers. His study revealed that the use of chemical fertilisers can be partly reduced by incorporating MLP and chemical fertilisers. He further evaluated the effect of various solvents used to produce moringa leaf extracts. These solvents included hot water, cold water, and chemical solvents. The effect of foliar moringa application on growth, yield and quality of tomato and pepper fruit was studied. The study revealed that moringa leaf extraction with hot water has the potential to replace chemical-based solvents. Apart from the use of the biostimulant moringa, Bonga also evaluated the postharvest effects of combining heat treatments, particularly hot water treatment, and LEDs on the quality and colour of cherry tomatoes. His study demonstrates that combined effects of white LED light and HWT for 1 min is a promising postharvest treatment to enhance shelf-life and quality of solanaceous fruit crops.
Bonga Ngcobo won the ISHS Prof. Jens Wünsche Young Minds Award for the best poster at the VIII International Symposium on Human Health Effects of Fruits and Vegetables (FAVHEALTH2021), which was held virtually in Germany in March 2021. We are pleased to note that this is Bonga’s second ISHS Young Minds Award. He was also recognized for the best poster at the II International Symposium on Moringa in 2019.
Mr. Bonga Ngcobo, Horticultural Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal, 22 Scottsville Rd, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, e-mail: email@example.com
The article is available in Chronica Horticulturae