Influence of fertilizer application on biomass yield and nutritional quality of Mustard Spinach (Florida) Broadleaf in South Africa
Du Plooy, C.P.
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Mustard Spinach (Florida Broadleaf) is an indigenized leafy vegetable grown in Southern Africa. It is a good source of vitamins and mineral nutrients. An understanding of its response to fertilizer application is important in developing cultural practices for improved yield of the crop. Furthermore, improving fertilizer use efficiency such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) would result in improving cropping system. Therefore, a field experiment was conducted in 2010 and 2011 winter cropping season to determine the influence of NPK applications and their interactions on biomass yield and nutritional values of Mustard spinach. A randomized complete block design replicated four times were used for the experiment. ANOVA showed significant variation among the treatments. The values for total fresh biomass yield ranged from 252–4,510 and 820–4,982 kg ha-1 in 2010 and 2011 cropping seasons, respectively. Omission of P had 4,510 kg ha-1 of total fresh biomass yield, while omission of K had 4,506 kg ha-1 in the first season. The lowest N content (2.63%) was recorded when nitrogen fertilizer was omitted. Full NPK application increased the content of N and K on the leaf tissues of Mustard Spinach. The highest percentage of dietary fiber was observed when K was omitted. The values recorded for ascorbic acid content varied from 126.94 and 117.42 mg 100g-1 , respectively for both seasons. Iron was more concentrated on the treatments, where K was omitted. Mustard Spinach responded to fertilizer application and the results validated that application of NPK had a beneficial effect on increased production and productivity of the crop tested for small scale farmers.