Development of sustainable nutrient management! strategy for oil palm (elaeis guineensis) nursery: neb and polyfeed evaluation

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The responses of oil palm {Elaeis guineesis) seedlings to different fertilizer sources were monitored. Polyfeed and NEB sources were tested whiles the standard practice of the Oil Palm Research Institute and an absolute control were used as standard reference. The trial consisted of two parts with different treatments monitored over a period of ten and our months. The first trial consisted of nine treatments whiles the second trial consisted of five treatments, all replicated three times in randomized complete block design (RCBD). Growth parameters measured included plant height, number of leaves/palm, butt circumference, frond dry weight, leaf area and leaf area index. Leaf samples were analyzed for N, P, K, Mg, Ca. Soil chemical properties, microbial biomass and urease activities were also determined. Oil palm seedlings responded positively to the fertilizer « application. Thirty grams of polyfeed and standard practice per palm per month improved the vegetative growth and the soil nutrient content compared to the absolute control. Polyfeed + NEB-26, polyfeed + NEB-29, polyfeed + NEB-33, standard practice + NEB- 26, standard practice + NEB-29 and standard practice + NEB-33 performed equally well. Sole NEB-33, NEB-26 and NEB-29 did not improve butt circumference, number of leaves/palm and nutrient content of the leaves at the end of the trial. The total biomass production among the different fertilizer sources was more or less similar with the exception of NEB-26 and NEB-29. Monthly application of the treatments influenced the soil chemical properties to varying degrees. NEB-33 recorded the highest urease activity of 15.60 mg/kg with polyfeed and the standard practice accounting for the highest microbial N and P levels. While it costs GH0O.43 to produce a seedling without fertilizer, it costs GH01.15 and GH02.59 to apply NEB-26 and NEB-29 respectively for 12 months. Polyfeed and the standard practice amounted to GH^O.79 and GH0O.6O respectively for 12 months. The use of NEB-33 for 4 months accounted for GH0O.51. The performance of polyfeed treatment agronomically was good and would be more appropriately used to advantage than sole NEB for raising oil palm seedlings. Polyfeed has the potential to be used at the oil palm nursery. The standard practice treatment as observed was agronomically and economically the best treatment.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Crop and Soil Science, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the award of the degree of Master of Science in Soil science, 2008