Boosting Soil Health and Guava Yield with Natural Mulch in Rain-Fed Orchards

Jim Crocker
18th June, 2024

Boosting Soil Health and Guava Yield with Natural Mulch in Rain-Fed Orchards

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study was conducted in guava orchards using Tephrosia candida biomass as mulch
  • Applying 3.0 kg of Tephrosia biomass per square meter significantly increased trunk diameter, fruit yield, and fruit weight
  • This mulch treatment also improved soil properties, including higher nutrient levels and better soil organic carbon and microbial activity
The recent study conducted by the ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute investigates the application of Tephrosia candida biomass as mulch in guava orchards[1]. Tephrosia candida, a leguminous crop, is known for its high biomass production and nutrient content. This research aimed to determine the optimal amount of Tephrosia candida biomass for mulching to enhance soil fertility and crop yield. The study, initiated in 2019, included four treatments: T1 with 3.0 kg of dry biomass per square meter (m²), T2 with 2.0 kg, T3 with 1.0 kg, and T4 as a control with no mulch. These treatments were applied annually in August. By the third year (2021-2022), mulching with 3.0 kg of biomass per m² (T1) showed significant improvements in various parameters compared to the control. Key findings from the study revealed that the highest mulch dose (3.0 kg m²) led to increased trunk diameter, fruit yield, fruit weight, specific leaf area, total leaf chlorophyll, and leaf macro- and micro-nutrients. Additionally, this treatment improved soil properties, including electrical conductivity (EC), available nitrogen, phosphorus, exchangeable potassium, and DTPA-extractable micronutrients (Fe, Zn, Cu, and Mn). Soil organic carbon (SOC) and microbial biomass carbon also saw notable increases. The study's findings align with previous research indicating the benefits of organic amendments on soil quality. For instance, excessive use of synthetic fertilizers in greenhouse vegetable systems has been shown to degrade soil quality, leading to increased salt and nitrate concentrations and higher cadmium levels[2]. In contrast, the use of organic mulches, such as Tephrosia biomass, can enhance soil properties and sustainability. Moreover, the decomposition rate of Tephrosia leaf litter was found to be 1.27 year⁻¹, with a carbon content of 40.11%. This suggests that Tephrosia biomass not only improves soil fertility but also contributes to carbon sequestration, an essential factor in mitigating climate change. The study's results are particularly relevant in the context of global efforts to find sustainable agricultural practices that reduce reliance on synthetic chemicals and improve soil health. The study also highlighted increased microbial activity, as evidenced by higher dehydrogenase activity (DHA) and fluorescein diacetate (FDA) hydrolysis in soils treated with Tephrosia biomass. This is consistent with findings from other research that demonstrates the impact of environmental conditions on microbial activity and enzyme responses to pesticides and organic amendments[3]. In conclusion, the application of Tephrosia candida biomass at a rate of 3.0 kg m² is a viable long-term solution for enhancing soil fertility and sequestering carbon in guava orchards. This approach not only improves crop yield and quality but also promotes sustainable soil management practices, offering a promising alternative to synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.



Main Study

1) Enhancing soil health and fruit yield through Tephrosia biomass mulching in rainfed guava (Psidium guajava L.) orchards.

Published 17th June, 2024

Related Studies

2) Changes in the soil environment from excessive application of fertilizers and manures to two contrasting intensive cropping systems on the North China Plain.

Journal: Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987), Issue: Vol 145, Issue 2, Jan 2007

3) Influence of soil temperature and moisture on biochemical biomarkers in earthworm and microbial activity after exposure to propiconazole and chlorantraniliprole.

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