The Effects of Organic, Chemical and Biological Fertilizers on Seed Yield and Yield Components of Dwarf Chicory (Cichorium pumilum Jacq.)

Document Type : Research Article


1 Ferdowsi University of Mashhad

2 Research Institute for Food Sciences


Introduction: In order to response to greater demand for wild medicinal plants consumption, it has been recommended that wild medicinal plants can be brought into cultivation systems. Cichorium pumilum Jacq. is an annual species of Asteraceae family, that has a long history of herbal use and is especially of great value for its tonic effects upon the liver and digestive tract. The root and the leaves of chicory are digestive, hypoglycemic, diuretic, laxative and tonic. Using chemical fertilizers can be easily lost from soils through fixation, leaching or gas emission that can lead to reduced fertilizer efficiency. The applications of organic fertilizers such as compost and vermicompost can be considered as a good management practice to increase cropping system sustainability, reducing soil erosion and improving soil physical, chemical and biological properties. Soil microorganisms have a significant role in regulating the dynamics of organic matter breakdown and the availability of plant nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphate and sulfur.
Materials and Methods: For evaluating the effects of organic, mineral and biological fertilizers on seed yield and yield components of dwarf chicory (Cichorium pumilum Jacq.), a field experiment was conducted at the Agricultural Research Station, the Ferdowsi University of Mashhad (36016/ N, 59036/ E, elevation 985 m) during growing season of 2011-2012. The experimental layout was factorial based on randomized complete block design with four replications. The experimental treatments were all combination of organic and chemical fertilizers (compost 4 t/ha, vermicompost 4 t/ha, urea fertilizer 130 kg/ha and control) and biological fertilizer (biosulfur biofertilizer + pure sulfur 100 kg/ ha and control). Before conducting the experiment, soil sample were taken from the depth of 0-30 cm, and physical and chemical characteristics of the soil and also used compost and vermicompost were determined. All fertilizer treatments were added to the soil and mixed well with the soil before sowing. In order to avoid leaching, all urea fertilizer was divided to two parts and these were used in two dates during the growth period. Cichorium pumilum Jacq seeds were hand sown in 2.5 ×4 m plots in five rows and with plant density 20 plants m−2. Before harvesting the grain, five plants were randomly selected in each plot from 2500 cm2 (50×50cm) and their characteristics and traits such as plant height, number of tiller per plant, number of branch per plant, number of inflorescence per plant, number of seed per inflorescence, number of seed per plant and seed weight were determined. For statistical analysis, analysis of variance (ANOVA) and Duncan multiple range test at 0.05 level were performed using SAS version 9.1 (SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC, USA).
Results and Discussion: The Results indicated that studied factors and their interactions had not significant effect on morphological traits (plant height, number of tiller per plant, number of branch per plant) and on yield components of seed such as: number of seed per inflorescence, 1000-seed weight, seed weight per plant, seed yield and harvest index (HI). The results showed that organic and chemical fertilizers had significant effect on number of inflorescence per plant, number of seed per plant, biological yield (p< 0.05).The highest number of inflorescence per plant, number of seed per plant and seed weight per plant were observed in chemical fertilizer + biosulfur biofertilizer treatment. The highest seed yield (1489 kg.ha-1) obtained from compost + biosulfur biofertilizer treatment. Chemical fertilizer + biosulfur biofertilizer treatment (7576 kg.ha-1) produced the highest biological yield. It seems that because of high solubility of chemical fertilizer, nutrients are immediately available to the plants therefore, plants can use nutrients of chemical fertilizer faster than other fertilizers. Biofertilizer and organic fertilizer can improve soil properties and also through nutrient supply, improves plant growth.
Conclusion: In this study, it seems that the morphological traits (plant height, number of tiller and number of branches per plant) and yield components such as the number of seeds per inflorescence and seed weight were influenced by genetic characteristics and fertilizer treatments had little effect on mentioned traits and the plant was able with nutrient available in soil, overcome its needs. Overall in this study, results showed that the use of compost combination with biosulfur biofertilizer had positive effect on studied traits of dwarf chicory and use of them can be an effective step towards sustainable production and replacement use of chemical fertilizers.


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