ARET, Annual Report 2001, p. 107-13.

Determination of rates of alternative sources of nursery fertilizers

ARET, Agricultural Research and Extension Trust, Lilongwe, Malawi
The objectives of this work were to establish if the use of alternative fertilisers, especially 23:21:0:4S and Super D, would produce tobacco seedlings that are as healthy and easy to harden as those produced with S mixture as a basal dressing fertiliser and to establish the rates at which these fertilisers should be applied in tobacco nursery beds for the production of healthy seedlings. This trial was conducted at Kandiya and Mwimba Research Stations using Banket A-1 burley tobacco variety in a split plot design, replicated three times, with the top dressing fertilizers as the main plot and the basal dressing as the sub-plots. This was the first season for this trial and the results obtained and observations made so far had indicated that Super D was a better alternative nursery basal fertiliser rather than 23:21:0:4S. Of much interest could have been the case of hardening seedlings from each of these treatments since this was part of the data to be collected. Unfortunately this trial was implemented rather late so that by the time the seedlings were only three weeks old, substantial rains had already started to fall. This meant that even in the case of the control treatments (S Mixture + CAN), it was not easy to harden the seedlings. Farmers' comments prior to the implementation of this trial were that seedlings produced under basal dressing of 23:21:0:4S looked greener and tended to grow more vigorously than in the case where S mixture was being used. This was observed to be true during this season, but having green seedlings close to transplanting time is not desirable since the chances of those seedlings surviving once they have been transplanted are slimmer than in the case where well hardened seedlings are transplanted. This work would be repeated during the following season and sowing would be done much earlier to ensure that seedlings reach a height of about 10-cm before the onset of the rains so that hardening for all treatments could be achieved. In addition, soil samples from each plot would be collected before, during and alter the implementation of the treatments for the analyses of N, P, K and S.