A common problem often experienced by both small and large scale banana farmers is the reduction in quality and yield of bananas due to soil moisture deficits and declining soil fertility. To overcome this, mechanisms of improving yield without compromising environmental integrity or public health are being embraced. Globally, researchers have continued to evaluate the competence of environmental-friendly organic fertilizers and smoke solutions to improve the growth, yield and quality of various crops. In the present study, the effect of smoke-water (1:1,000; 1:500 and 1:250 dilutions) and vermicompost leachate (1:20; 1:10 and 1:5 dilutions) treatments on the growth of greenhouse grown bananas was evaluated. Soil drenching (smoke-water and vermicompost leachate) and foliar application (smoke-water) were tested on 1-month-old tissue-cultured banana seedlings under greenhouse conditions. After 3 months, growth parameters such as number and length of roots and shoots; number of leaves and leaf area as well as their fresh and dry weights were analyzed. Soil drenching with smoke-water significantly increased the root length (1:1,000 and 1:500 dilutions) as well as fresh and dry weight (1:1,000; 1:500 and 1:250 dilutions) when compared to foliar application. Vermicompost leachate (1:10 and 1:5 dilutions) significantly enhanced the shoot length, root length, leaf area and dry weights. Vermicompost leachate (1:20; 1:10 and 1:5 dilutions) also significantly increased the number of off-shoots. The positive effect on rooting is beneficial for acclimatization and establishment of tissue-cultured banana plantlets in nurseries and subsequent transfer to the field. Moreover, the high cost of inorganic fertilizers as well as environmental safety concerns makes the use of smoke-water and vermicompost leachate potential alternatives to improving the growth and cultivation of bananas.
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We appreciate the technical assistance of Mrs Alison Young (University of KwaZulu-Natal, Botanical Garden, Pietermaritzburg) and her staff during the greenhouse experiment. Special thanks to Dr Mack Moyo for proof reading the manuscript. The University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg and the National Research Foundation, Pretoria, South Africa are thanked for financial support.
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Aremu, A.O., Kulkarni, M.G., Bairu, M.W. et al. Growth stimulation effects of smoke-water and vermicompost leachate on greenhouse grown-tissue-cultured ‘Williams’ bananas. Plant Growth Regul 66, 111–118 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10725-011-9634-6
- Food security
- Musa spp.
- Organic fertilizers
- Smoke solutions