Comparative Evaluation of Animal Manures on Soil Properties, Growth and Yield of Sweet Maize (Zea mays L. saccharata Strut.)
Donatus Felix Uwah, Utietiang Litio Undie, Nkereuwem Michael John

Alternative sources of plant nutrients have now become imperative especially for vegetable crop production in Nigeria because of the escalating costs of inorganic fertilizers with the attendant environmental and health problems associated with excessive use of these inputs on continuously cropped fields. A two-year field experiment was conducted during the early planting seasons from March to June of 2011 and 2012 on the acidic coastal plain soils at Calabar, to evaluate the combined effects of four rates each (0, 5, 10 and 15 t/ha) of poultry manure (PM) and goat manure (GM) on soil chemical properties and agronomic performance of sweet maize (Zea mays L. saccharata Strut.). Factorial combinations of the treatments were fitted into a randomized complete block design with three replications. The application of the manures significantly (P = 0.05) raised the soil pH, organic matter content, total N, available P and exchangeable K, Ca and Mg status of the soil. Except for pH, total N, and available P contents, GM had superior responses for all other chemical properties than PM. The 15 t/ha rate of both manures maximized sweet maize growth attributes, total dry matter (TDM) and grain yields and also hastened days to 50% tasselling. On average, the application of 5, 10 and 15 t/ha PM rates, increased TDM by 8.5, 35.1 and 53.9%, whereas the corresponding values for GM were 15.6, 27.8 and 33.2% respectively compared with the unamended control plots. The grain yield increases at 15 t/ha PM and GM were 11.2, 59.8 and 126.9% ; and 4.2, 20.0 and 45.8% respectively, above the 10, 5 and 0 t/ha rates of both manures. The growth and yield attributes showed greater responses to PM than GM in terms of the values obtained. The co-application of PM at 15 t/ha and GM at 10 t/ha had the best effects on TDM and grain yield and is thus recommended for sweet maize production in this agro-ecology.

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