15 Soil Nutrient & Plant Development

Implemented by: Josema Albeniz Larrauri, WUR

Thesis superviser: Dr. ir. Maja Slingerland & Dr. ir. Raymond Jongschaap, WUR

Main findings: Soil nitrogen and potassium variation could not explain the differences in plant development. However, higher phosphorous levels lead to more branching and higher plants. In general the availability of N, P and K are not the main determinant of plant development. Other factors are not well researched but pruning, planting distance and weeding are likely to be important factors. For the Cabo Delgado project it is unfortunate that P and not N is important for plant growth because there are few options for manipulating P levels within the constraints of the current farming systems.

The tropical oil crop Jatropha curcas L. may have economic potential in the global biofuel market. However, improvement of the crop needs further research and effort, requiring knowledge on plant phenology as a result of plant development. The main objective of this research is to describe and evaluate the development of Jatropha curcas L., and to relate this to different soil conditions, with the aim of generating a database that could be used for future studies. Development of the crop is investigated through measurements of 1898 Jatropha curcas L. plants from six different fields belonging to Farmer’s Clubs in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique. Plant development is assessed through measurements of the parameters height, number of branches grown during the first year, number of branches grown during the second year, effective branch length and leaf area index of all 1898 plants. The relation between these parameters is investigated by statistical methods aiming to derive patterns that can be represented by mathematical equations. Dry matter and nutrient (N, P and K) content are measured in samples of plant organs (stem, branches grown during the first and second year, petioles and leafs) of selected plants of all the fields. Their relative distribution over the plant organs within total plants has been calculated. To explore whether soil nutrient status could explain differences in plant development and nutrient content, statistical analysis has been used to correlate plant nutrient data with soil nutrient data that were provided by plant and soil analyses. Results obtained in the present research indicate growth and development traits of the specific variety of the Jatropha curcas L. crop cultivated in the region of Cabo Delgado. These results can be used for further investigations in development of J. curcas crop worldwide and in estimations for local bioenergy scenarios.
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José María Albéniz Larrauri (2011): Jatropha curcas L. development explained by soil nutrient status.   2571k v. 6 21 Mar 2011, 01:43 Banana hill Consultants