Effects of locally available nutrient sources on the growth of maize (Zeamays).
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Agriculture is the economic engine for most developing countries such as Uganda. As a result of the increasing population in soils have been heavily cultivated to meet the food and financial demands of the population. However, there is little knowledge onthe potential of locally available nutrient sources such as water hyacinth, Mexican sunflower and calliandra to improve soil health. This study assessed the effects of locally available nutrient sources such as water hyacinth, calliandra and Mexican sunfloweron the growth and nutrient content of maize.The experiment was carried out at the Department of Environmental Management, Makerere University.Water hyacinth, Mexican sunflower, and Calliandra were collected from different areas within Kampala and Mukono District.Poor soil was obtained from a farm in Semuto, Luweero District. The experiment involved 7 treatments; T1-Control(just soil), T2-4.44g of Calliandra, T3-4.44g Water hyacinth, T4-4.4g of Mexican sunflower, T5-2.22g of Water hyacinth (50%)+0.392g of NPK (17:17:17) (50%), T6 2.22g Mexican sunflower (50%) +0.392g of NPK (17:17:17) (50%) and T7 of NPK (17:17:17). NPK(17:17:17)wasused to compare to compare the organic and inorganic fertilizers at the same nitrogen level. The treatments werethoroughly mixed with 5kg of soil then put in buckets. The experiment was laid out in completely randomized block design with three replications and was conducted for 8 weeks. Routine management practices included weeding by hand pulling and watering. Data were periodically collected on the number of leaves, height and eventually leaves collected for nitrogen and phosphorous analysis in the laboratory. Data were analyzed using GenStat and the means were separated using standard error of difference at 5 % significance level. Results showedthat application of organic and inorganic fertilizers had a significant effect on the height of maize both in the 5thweek(P=0.002)and 7thweek(P=0.001)of growth. However, there was no significant difference in the number of leaves in the 5thweek(P=0.201)though exceptions occurred in the 7thweek(P=0.011)of growth. The nitrogen and phosphorus contents were pronounced in T5.Therefore, the use of water hyacinth, Mexican sunflower and calliandra should be encouraged by the relevant authorities as they are environmentally friendly and have minimal effects on human health.Further studies should also be conducted on similar locally available nutrient resources incorporated with small bits of synthetic fertilizers applied before sowing.