Evaluation of Fertilizer Formulations on Soil Chemical Properties, Growth, Yield and Quality of Sugarcane Variety (Ken 83-737) in Kakamega County, Kenya
Namunyu, Jeremiah Okello
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Low sugarcane productivity has persisted in Western Kenya where most of the crop is grown. A study conducted by Kenya Sugar Research Institute in January 2011 at, Nyando Sugar Zone indicated that sugarcane yields were varied based on fertilizer type applied to the crop. Average sugarcane yield was 64 tones/ha as opposed to a potential yield of more than 100 tones/ha under rain-fed conditions. Declining soil fertility and lack of critical nutrients in fertilizer formulations applied to the crop were key reasons for the declining yields. The provision of well formulated fertilizers to sugarcane growing areas has been a challenge, yet sugarcane has extremely high demand for elements particularly NPK. There is therefore need to formulate fertilizers with an aim to provide the required nutrients in appropriate quantities. The aim of the present study was to provide formulations of sugarcane fertilizers targeting critical nutrient requirements to improve on the crop response in terms of nutrient uptake, growth, yield and cane quality. The study was conducted in 2013 in Mumias Sugarcane growing zone at Mumias Sugar Nucleus estate situated 0021’N and 34030E at 1314 meters above sea level. The treatments under experiment were as follows; T1 (DAP + Urea), T2 (DAP + MOP + Urea), T3 (NPKCaMg) and T4 (No fertilizer – Control). A randomized complete block design (RCBD) was used with 4 treatments each replicated 4 times to give 16 experimental plots, each measuring 10x6 meters (60 m2). Data was collected on tiller count, growth rate and yield. TCH, P01% cane, foliar potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus were also determined. The soil chemical analyses were carried out before and after cane growth. Data collected was subjected to analysis of variance (ANOVA) using R software version 3.4.0 and treatment means separated using the Tukey`s HSD post hoc test at 5% level of significance. Where there was significant difference, the mean separation was done using LSD. The NPKCaMg (T3) formulation elicited the highest plant height of 4.2 cm at the time of sampling compared to control which was 1.5cm, the differences were statistically significant. The NPKCaMg (T3) formulation was superior in Po1% cane (14.1), followed by DAP + Mop (T2) (13.3) followed by DAP (T1) (12.0) and control (10.5). The difference between control and DAP were not statistically different. The cane yield followed the % Pol values, only that in this case there were significant differences amongst all treatments. The NPKCaMg (T3) and DAP + Mop (T2) treatments led to higher soil pH values ranging between 5.0 to 5.5 while the control and DAP had values less than 5.0. In correlation and regression analysis different fertilizer formulations were observed to affect development and sugarcane yields. Therefore, from these findings farmers at Mumias Sugarcane growing zone should be encouraged to adopt blended fertilizer formulations to improve cane sucrose content, soil chemical properties and overally improve sugarcane yields in the long run.