Author(s): Daniel Zeru Zelelew, Sewa Lal, Tesfai Tsegai Kidane, Biniam Mesfin Ghebreslassie
Potato is one of the priority vegetable crops in the highlands of Eritrea growing as a key component in the livelihood systems of farmers. Potato requires a variety of balanced plant mineral nutrients for growth and development without which yield and qualities of tubers are reduced. Potato growers in Eritrea commonly use Di-ammonium Phosphate, Urea and Farmyard manure while potassium fertilizers are overlooked assuming that the soil is developed from K rich parent material and contains sufficient amount of K to support crop growth. However this assumption is based on the result obtained forty-seven years ago. As a result the yield and quality of potato produced is very low as compared with international standards. Therefore the present experiment was conducted to assess the effect of potassium levels on growth and productivity of potato varieties at Hamelmalo Agricultural College, Eritrea. The Plant Sciences experiment was conducted in factorial Randomized Complete Block Design with fifteen treatment combinations of three varieties (Ajiba, Zafira and Picasso) and five potassium levels (0, 75, 150, 225 and 300 kg K2O/ha) replicated thrice. The results of the study showed that both variety and potassium had significant effect on growth and yield parameters. Aerial stem number, leaf number per plant and plant height were increased with increasing K levels from 0 to 150 kg while number of days to maturity was increased in the range of 0 – 300 kg K2O/ha. The result also indicated that variety Ajiba treated with 300 kg K2O/ha produced significantly highest tuber weight (1.14 kg) per plant and tuber yield of 49.38 t/ha. The economic analysis result revealed that maximum gross margin 13,665.816 USD/ha was obtained from the application of 300 kg K2O/ha. On the whole, it gives an impression that using potassium fertilizer according to soil requirements will have good influence on growth and tuber yield.
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