Assessment of the effect of soil amendments on soil health and productivity of tomato (Lycoperscon esculentum)
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Different soil inputs have varying effects on yield and post production soil properties. This study assessed the effect of three soil inputs namely; poultry manure (PM), NPK 17:17:17, and organo yield biochar-based enhancer on tomato growth, yield and the post cropping soil properties. An experiment was conducted at National Crops Resources Research Institute, Namulonge in Randomized Complete Block Design (RCBD) with three replications. Data were collected on growth and yield parameters; plant height, number of leaves, number of branches, number of flower clusters, number of fruits per plant, weight of fruits per plant and soil tests before and after the experiment. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed to assess the effect of treatments on tomato growth and yield. Effect of the inputs on post production properties were assessed through comparing soil properties before and after cropping with published critical values. Results indicated that all inputs increased growth and yield of tomatoes significantly (p < 0.05) compared to the control. Organo yield biochar-based enhancer had superior effect with highest yield of averagely 24.8 fruits per plant and 1192g yield per plant while the unfertilized (control) had the least 8.6 fruits per plant with average weight 335g per plant. Also, NPK increased the tomato growth parameters followed by poultry manure and organo yield. Poultry manure and organo yield fertilizers improved the soil chemical and physical properties. Organo yield decreased the soil bulk density and increased the pH from 4.8 to 5.5. NPK treatment only increased the calcium content in the soil. Use of fertilizers increased growth and yield of tomatoes as well as the soil improvement; however, organo yield biochar-based soil enhancer is recommendable for sustainable tomato production since less quantities are required to reduce on the amounts of money spent on chemical fertilizers.