Effects of Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes [mart.] solms) Compost on Growth and Yield Parameters of Maize (Zea mays)
Muoma, J. O.
Maingi, J. M.
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Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) has become a problem in water bodies all over the world. Various methods have been used to eradicate the macrophyte but with little success. The weed has high content of the nutrients absorbed from its environment. Hence there is need to assess the potential of utilizing the weed for commercial purposes such as compost to substitute the use of inorganic fertilizers which contributes to climate change. The objective of the study was to evaluate the effects of water hyacinth compost prepared using different treatments on the growth and yield of common beans. Field experiments were carried out at Otonglo Division in Kisumu County (Kenya) and greenhouse experiments were carried out at Kenyatta University. The water hyacinth compost was prepared using effective microorganisms (EM) solution, cattle manure and molasses separately as starter cultures for composting. The effect of compost on crop production was assessed by applying the compost to common beans (Rose coco) on separate growth pots in the greenhouse and plots in the field respectively. The treatments applied included compost prepared with EM (8.837 g/pot), compost prepared with cattle manure (8.837 g/pot), compost prepared with molasses (8.837g/pot), diammonium phosphate (DAP) fertilizer (70.7 mg N/pot), inoculum (beans treated with Rhizobium leguminosarum strain 446) and control. For the field experiments, water hyacinth compost was applied at a rate of 5000 kg ha-1 and DAP at 40 kg N/ha. The experiments were laid out in a Randomized Complete Block Design with six treatments and three replications for each treatment in the greenhouse and five treatments replicated four times in three farmers’ fields. Application of water hyacinth compost and DAP significantly (p ≤ 0.05) influenced the growth of common beans. The best performance of Rose coco plants in terms of dry weight, root dry weight, number of nodules per plant, nodule dry weight and root collar diameter was recorded when the soil was amended with water hyacinth compost prepared with EM (WHE). Yield parameters such as 100 seed weight, grain yield and stover weight were significantly (p < 0.05) influenced when the soil was amended with various treatments. It can therefore be concluded that water hyacinth which is locally available and in large quantities (especially in lake Victoria) can be composted to prepare organic fertilizers and effectively used as an organic soil amendment to restore soil and increase common beans production.