Performance of Indian Spinach (Basella alba L.) as Affected by Water Stress and Different Sources of Plant Nutrients
Indian Spinach (Basella alba L.) is an important leafy vegetable of enormous nutritional and economic benets but it is underutilized in Nigeria partly because it has received very little research attention. This work aimed to determine the effects of different sources of plant nutrients and water stress on the performance of the crop. The treatments consisted of 4 water stress levels (daily, 2, 4 and 6 days watering intervals) and 4 nutrient sources (control, NPK 20-10-10, poultry manure and sapropel). These were arranged in Completely Randomized Design (CRD) in four replicates. Growth and yield parameters were recorded. The results revealed that water stress signicantly reduced the number of leaves, vine length, stem diameter and biomass yield. Water stress up to 4 days reduced the biomass yield by 82% in NPK treated plants and 26% in poultry manure treated plants but there was no signicant difference between the biomass yield of daily and 2 days interval watered plants. NPK fertilizer and poultry manure signicantly increased all the growth and yield parameters measured compared to sapropel treated plants which had statistical similar performances with the control plants. Application of NPK fertilizer and poultry manure signicantly increased the shoot fresh yield by 137% and 82% respectively while application of sapropel only increased the yield by 6%. In the control and sapropel treated plants, water stress did not signicantly affect the biomass yield up to 6 days watering interval. It can therefore be concluded that application of organic or inorganic fertilizer is needed for optimum performance of B. alba. Use of sapropel alone may not be a viable alternative to chemical fertilizer in the cultivation of the crop unlike poultry manure. Water stress sets in after 2 days watering interval causing signicant reduction in growth and yield. Indian spinach can tolerate up to 6 days watering interval, but when there is improved soil nutrition leading to better growth, watering at two days interval is optimum.