Department of Plant Biology and Biotechnology, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria
Department of Soil Science, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria
Department of Environmental Engineering for Symbiosis, Soka University, Tokyo, Japan
Purpose In soil-based nursery media, topsoil, poultry droppings and sawdust conventionally provide anchorage, nutrients and aeration, respectively. Considering poultry droppings’ scarcity and sawdust’s inertness nutrient-wise, more readily available organic wastes should be explored as substitutes. Here, we evaluated the effect of such substitution on media fertility, aimed at seeking alternatives to the conventional practice.
Methods In a topsoil-manure-aerator volume ratio of 3:2:1, poultry droppings was substituted with pig slurry (slurry) or cattle dung (dung) as manure and sawdust with rice-husk dust (huskdust) as aerator, giving seven soil-based media including reference medium (topsoil+droppings+sawdust) and the control (topsoil+topsoil+topsoil). They were watered regularly and analysed for fertility parameters 4 months later.
Results Reference had the highest pH (8.60) and topsoil+dung+huskdust/control the lowest (6.83). Substituting sawdust with huskdust enhanced pH, organic matter and Mg2+ in droppings/dung-amended media (topsoil+droppings+huskdust/ topsoil+dung+huskdust) unlike slurry-amended ones where it too reduced total nitrogen (0.19 vs 0.11%). The substitution also enhanced available phosphorus in topsoil+droppings+huskdust (117.50 mg kg−1) and topsoil+dung+huskdust (71.50 mg kg−1) but reduced K+ in the latter where it too had moderating effects on Na+. Reference surpassed topsoil+slurry+huskdust for Ca2+, but was surpassed by topsoil+droppings+huskdust for Mg2+. Reference/topsoil+droppings+huskdust and topsoil+slurry+huskdust/control showed highest and lowest CEC, respectively. Excluding pH, topsoil+dung+huskdust and topsoil+slurry+sawdust were, notably, consistently similar. Overall, droppings-amended>dung-amended>slurry-amended media and, for available phosphorus only, sawdust-aerated < huskdust-aerated media.
Conclusion Based on fertility status 4 months after blending, topsoil+droppings+huskdust could serve as alternative to the conventional nursery medium, or topsoil+dung+huskdust where near-neutral pH is preferred to increased phosphorus/cations release.