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PJAR_33_4_858_865

 

 

 

Research Article

Effect of Vermicompost and Microbial Inoculants on Yield, Soil Fertility and Economics of Wheat under Rainfed Conditions

Muhammad Arsaln1, Sair Sarwar2*, Rizwan Latif1, Junaid Nawaz Chauhdary3, Munazza Yousra2 and Shahbaz Ahmad2

1Barani Agricultural Research Institute, Chakwal, Pakistan; 2Land Resources Research Institute, Pakistan; 3Water Management Research Centre, University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan.

Abstract | Integrated application of mineral fertilizers, organic amendments and microbial inoculants not only maximize the crop production and economic returns but also improve the soil health. A two years field study was conducted in the farm of Barani Agricultural Research Institute, Chakwal (32o55’33”N, 72 o43’30”E) to evaluate the integrated impact of vermicompost (VC) and microbial inoculants on wheat yield and economics. Eight treatments i.e., control; recommended dose of fertilizers (160:150:50) NPK in kg ha-1; VC @ 4t ha-1; PSB; Recommended fertilizers + VC @ 4t ha-1; Recommended fertilizers + PSB; VC @ 4t ha-1 + PSB; Recommended fertilizers + VC @ 4t ha-1 + PSB were tested in the experiment using various combinations of vermicompost (VC) @ 4t ha-1 and phosphorus solubilizing bacterial (PSB) as microbial inoculants along with recommended dose of NPK fertilizers (RDF) were applied at the time of sowing. The combined application of VC, PSB and RDF increased the wheat yield 2684 kgha-1 and 3179 kgha-1 while the yield recorded in control was 572 and 887 kgha-1 for two consecutive years. Same trend was observed in other yield attributes i.e. no. of tillers m-2 (T8; 348, 352 vs control; 240, 238), spike length (T8; 12cm, 14cm vs control; 9.10, 10.9), no. of grains spike-1 (T8; 63, 65 vs control; 34, 28) during both years, respectively. It has also mended the soil health by improving the soil OM status (0.58%), NO3-N (13ppm) and phosphorus (9.4ppm) contents. The economic analysis revealed that maximum net returns were found in integrated nutrient application (RDF, VC and microbial inoculants) i.e., Rs. 67,044 ha-1 for 2017-18 and Rs. 1,03,202 ha-1 for 2nd year and minimum returns in control.


Received | December 02, 2019; Accepted | September 22, 2020; Published | October 17, 2020

*Correspondence | Sair Sarwar, Land Resources Research Institute, Pakistan; Email: sardarsair@hotmail.com

Citation | Arsaln, M., S. Sarwar, R. Latif, J.N. Chauhdary, M. Yousra and S. Ahmad. 2020. Effect of vermicompost and microbial inoculants on yield, soil fertility and economics of wheat under rainfed conditions. Pakistan Journal of Agricultural Research, 33(4): 858-865.

DOI | http://dx.doi.org/10.17582/journal.pjar/2020/33.4.858.865

Keywords | Soil fertility, Wheat yield, Recommended dose of fertilizers (RDF), Vermicompost, Phosphorus solubilizing bacteria (PSB)


Introduction

Wheat (Tritium aestivum L.) is considered energetic dietary food among the cereal crops of Pakistan and occupies a major position in farming system (Anon, 2016). Wheat yield is being affected due to many factors like low rainfall, frost and heat hazards, imbalanced use of fertilizers, poor soil fertility and unaffordable cost of chemical fertilizers in barani areas. However, rust and water shortage are the major factors which are reducing wheat yield each year (Rahman et al., 2012; Ahmad et al., 2010; Shad et al., 1999).

Due to world energy crisis and highest prices of inorganic fertilizers, the application of organic sources as plant nutrients is gaining importance. Under such conditions, proper blending of both organic and inorganic materials is essential which improve yield and enhance soil fertility and health (Pullicinoa et al., 2009; Weber et al., 2007). Pakistan is facing many challenges like food and energy crisis, therefore to feed the growing population that is increasing @ 2.6% every year, latest technologies of cultivation have to be explored to improve the yield (Qazilbash, 2002). Mineral fertilizers are powerful and immediate sources to meet the requirement, but the prices of inorganic chemical source are very high, non environment friendly and also unaffordable for poor farmers.

There are some other but little approaches available that can be adapted for the production of quality food. Maximum cultivated area is utilized for production of wheat in Pakistan than other crops therefor, wheat is considered the most important crop for Pakistani agriculture. Efficient organic resources should be focused in cereals especially in wheat to improve quality and production (Anon, 2007). The reduction of crop yield and soil fertility is due to the less application of bio-sources to soil (Shibu et al., 2010). Organic nutrient sources are caused by the carbon inputs (Lal, 2004), that has significant impact on various soil properties (Kumar and Goh, 1999). The application of composts and vermicompost (VC) as organic sources, except inorganic fertilizer and raw manure, enhance macro and micro nutrients, thereby ultimately improve soil health (Jack and Thies, 2006). Vermicomposting is aerobic, biological technique to convert organic wastes into fine form of organic substances. Application of organic compost and vermicompost boost the multiplication of microbes (nitrogen fixing bacteria and actinomycetes) and hence improve soil nitrogen and phosphorus (Chanda et al., 2011). Arslan et al. (2016) stated that the plant yield and nutrient uptake was enhanced by the application of vermicompost and full dose of phosphorus on mung bean. Livleen et al. (2013) while investigating the role of vermicompost and microbial inoculant on wheat also reported substantial increase in wheat yield in those treatments where organic and bio-sources were applied combinedly. The use of manures @10 tons ha-1 and vermicompost @ 5 tons ha-1 along with 60 kg P2O5 ha -1, PSB and 40 kg S ha-1 gave maximum yield of grain and straw (Patel et al. 2014). Kumar et al., (2017) also reported positive effect of vermicompost @ 5 tons ha-1 and phosphorus solubilizing bacteria on wheat yield and yield attributes. In view of the above facts, the experiment was designed to assess the consequence of organic and biological sources in the form of vermicompost and microbial inoculants along with inorganic nutrients on soil health and wheat yield under rainfed conditions.

 

Materials and Methods

A two years field study was conducted to assess the integrated effect of vermicompost, microbial inoculation and mineral fertilization on growth and yield of wheat cultivar Barani-17 at Barani Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), Chakwal (32o55’33”N, 72 o43’30”E) during 2017-18 to 2018-19 with the mean rain fall during monsoon season for 2017-18 and 2018-19 was 210mm and 140mm respectively. Soil samples were collected prior to sowing at two depths of 0-15cm and 15-30cm using soil sampler and analyzed for soil texture (Hydrometer method) pH/EC (US Salinity lab staff, 1954), Organic matter (Walkley, 1947), available Nitrogen (Bremner et al., 1965), available phosphorus (Olsen et al., 1954) and available potassium (flame photometer method) in soil science lab of BARI, Chakwal. Soil pH was neutral to slightly alkaline as 7.6, non-saline EC 0.78 dSm-1, low in organic matter 0.31%, poor available nitrogen (3mg kg-1) and low available phosphorus (2.5mg kg-1) and medium in available potassium (110mg kg-1). The texture of soil was clay loam with low moisture contents 3% (Gravimetric method) in upper layer (0-6 inch) and 7.2% in lower layer (6-12 inch). Well prepared vermicompost was obtained from vermiculture unit existing at BARI that was analyzed for mineral composition given in Table 1 and PSB inoculants were collected from Land Resources Research Institute, NARC Islamabad to evaluate the efficiency under rainfed condition of Chakwal. Fertilizer, vermicompost was applied at the time of sowing and wheat seed was inoculated with PSB prior to sowing. The experiment was laid out in RCBD factorial design using eight treatments e.g. T1: control where fertilizer, vermicompost (VC) and PSB wat not applied, T2: Recommended fertilizers (RF) of NPK (120:85:60) in kg ha-1 was applied (Department of Agriculture Govt. of Punjab), T3: Vermicompost (VC) @ 4t ha-1, T4: Phosphorus Solubilizing Bacteria (PSB), T5: Recommended fertilizers (RF) + VC @ 4t ha-1, T6: Recommended fertilizers (RF) + PSB; T7: VC @ 4t ha-1 + PSB, T8: Recommended fertilizers (RF) + VC @ 4t ha-1 + PSB. and three replications. The crop was sown with a single hand drill method maintaining row to row distance as 22.8cm keeping each plot size of 3mx10m. As 2nd year study was conducted on the same experimental site where 1st year was conducted hence, the residual effect of previously applied vermicompost on soil and crop yield was also assessed after two years study. Agronomic data on no. of tillers per square meter by counting no. of tillers, plant height (cm) using meter rod, thousand grain weight (g) by weighing balance, spike length (cm) by measuring scale and final yield (kg ha-1) using weighing balance after harvest was recorded and analyzed statistically (stat 8.1) using Least Significant Difference (LSD) multiple range test P≤0.05 (Steel, 1997). The benefit cost ratio (BC) was also determined for each treatment by calculating amount of total income and total cost of production.

Layout of experimental plot

 

Table 1: Composition of vermicompost.

Parameters

Unit

Vermicompost

Organic carbon

%

30

Nitrogen

%

2

Phosphorus

%

0.3

Potassium

%

1.8

Magnesium

mg kg-1

450

Zinc

mg kg-1

150

Copper

mg kg-1

45

Iron

mg kg-1

1600

CN ratio

16

pH

6.8

Moisture

%

27

 

Results and Discussion

Plant height

Results exhibited that all the parameter concerning wheat growth and yield were significantly affected by integrated application of vermicompost and microbial inoculants in combination with inorganic fertilizers (Table 2). For grain crops although plant height is not a yield constituent but it showed the impact of diverse nutrients on plant metabolism. Results indicated that when vermicompost and microbial inoculants in combination with inorganic fertilizers were applied it significantly increased in plant height over control. Maximum plant height (95cm, 96cm) during 2017-18 and 2018-19, was observed in plots where integrated organic, inorganic and biological sources (T8) were applied. Minimum plant height (81cm; 81cm) in both years was recorded in control. The plant height increases in response to integrated application might be mainly due supplementary contribution of nitrogen from different sources (Awan et al., 2011; Meena et al., 2003).

No of tillers/m2

The integrated application of vermicompost, PSB and RF significantly increased number of tillers m-2. The Highest number of tillers m-2 (348; 352) were found in T8 during 2017-18 and 2018-19, respectively. Control treatment (T1) showed minimum tillers m-2 (240; 238) during both consecutive years. Optimum accessibility of the required nutrients may increase number of tillers (Brahmachari et al., 2011). The results also indicated that no. of tillers increased where appropriate amount of NPK and vermicompost was applied. This kind of trend may be due to the effect of VC and NPK that ultimately improve soil fertility during the two years, respectively. Maqsood et al. (2001) revealed that adequate application of NPK increased in number of tillers.

Spike length

A significant increase in spike length was found over control and maximum spike length (12.3cm and 14cm) was found in T8 treatment (RF + VC + PSB) whereas in control the spike length was only 9.1cm and 11.9cm during the years 2017-18 and 2018-19, respectively. However, only slight difference in spike length was observed in all other treatments. These results may be due to the addition RF and vermicompost which improved nutrient status of soil. Dahiya et al. (2008) and Rather and Sharma (2010) also reported the similar findings in wheat. Increase in spike length in the treatment where organic and inorganic fertilizers were used collectively might be due to high availability of nutrients (Awan et al., 2011; Babu et al., 2001).

 

Table 2: Effect of vermicompost, microbial inoculants and RF on agronomic parameters of wheat.

Trt.

Plant height (cm)

No. of tillers (m-2)

Spike length (cm)

1000 Grain weight (g)

No. of grains (spike-1)

Grain yield (Kg ha-1)

17-18

18-19

17-18

18-19

17-18

18-19

17-18

18-19

17-18

18-19

17-18

18-19

T1

81e

81e

240e

238f

9.10e

10.9e

29d

24c

34e

28e

572e

887f

T2

88cd

91abc

287c

287d

10.7c

12.7cd

37c

37b

51cd

51bcd

1963bc

1863bcd

T3

88cd

88cd

248e

250f

10.4cd

12.4d

37c

42ab

47d

46d

1233d

1450de

T4

90bc

93ab

266d

270e

10d

12.0d

38bc

37b

51cd

49d

1383d

1333ef

T5

91abc

90bcd

319b

319c

11.3b

13.3bc

41ab

42ab

55bc

55bc

2033b

2311b

T6

93ab

94ab

328b

336b

11.7b

13.6b

40abc

40ab

59ab

57b

1878bc

2057bc

T7

84de

85de

299c

307c

10.1d

12.0d

38bc

39b

50d

50cd

1594cd

1628cde

T8

95a

96a

348a

352a

12.3a

14.0a

44a

46a

63a

65a

2484a

3179a

CV

3.17

3.10

3.13

3.22

3.01

3.21

5.94

9.19

5.5

6.94

13

14

LSD (0.05)

5

5

16

17

0.56

0.71

4

6

5

6

372

463

T1: control; T2: Recommended fertilizers (RF) of NPK (120:85:60) in kg ha-1; T3: Vermicompost (VC) @ 4t ha-1; T4: Phosphorus Solubilizing Bacteria (PSB); T5: Recommended fertilizers (RF) + VC @ 4t ha-1; T6: Recommended fertilizers (RF) + PSB; T7: VC @ 4t ha-1 + PSB; T8: Recommended fertilizers (RF) + VC @ 4t ha-1 + PSB.

 

1000 Grain weight

Another main yield contributing parameter is the grain weight. The results showed that maximum thousand grain weight (44g during 1st year and 46g during 2nd year) was found in the treatment T8 (RF + VC + PSB) which was about 51% higher over control treatment that was only 29g and 24g in the two years study. However, the treatments T5 (Recommended fertilizer + vermicompost @ 4t ha-1) also performed better than control showing 41g during 1st year and 42 during 2nd year. This difference is due to the combined application of organic and inorganic fertilizers in the soil which provide maximum nutrient to the grain. Tahir et al. (2011) also observed increase in growth, yield and grain weight of wheat when applied nutrients through different organic sources.

Number of grains spike-1

Data on no. of grains spike-1 indicated significant difference in the treatment T8 (RF + VC + PSB) over treatment T1 (control). Maximum no. of grains spike-1 were 63 and 65 for the year 2017-18 and 2018-19, respectively whereas minimum grains spike-1 were recorded in treatment T1 (34 and 28 for both year) where no organic and inorganic input was applied. However, grains spike-1 also improved in other treatments where individual or combined organic and inorganic source was used. These results are similar to the findings of Khan and Hussain (2001), who found that the farm yard manure and different levels of nitrogen and phosphorous significantly increased the number of grains.

Grain yield (kg ha-1)

In this study, highest grain yield (2784 kg ha-1 and 3179 kg ha-1) was recorded in the T8 treatment which was followed by T5 and T6 (572 kgha-1 and 887 kg ha-1). During the year 2017-18 and 2018-19, the treatment T7 where vermicompost and PSB was applied depicted better grain yield (1594 kg ha-1, 1628 kg ha-1) than control (Figure 1). This increase in grain yield may be due to the collective application of organic, inorganic and biological sources that enhanced nutrient status in soil. Davari et al. (2012) revealed that combined use of biofertilizers and organic material increased the wheat yield. Same consequences were also stated by Moe et al. (2019) that the combined nutrient application through organic and mineral sources improved the rice grain yield significantly over control. As yield and yield attributes mainly depends on efficient source but Barani Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), Chakwal located in the region where rainfall is mostly uneven and 70% rainfall occurs during moonsoon season (July to September). Wheat yield is generally low due to such climatic constraints and insufficient use of inputs. (Punjab Development Statistics, 2013). Rainfall data was recorded from meteorological system installed in the Institute. It can be observed from the graph that rainfall pattern was different for both the year 2017-18 and 2018-19. During the first monsoon season maximum rainfall occur during July (238 mm) and August (164 mm) whereas during 2018-19 maximum rainfall occur in June-July (96mm and 261mm) that left less moisture at the time of sowing but a continuous spell of rain from January 2019 to April 2019 occurred during the growing season of wheat that influence plant growth (Figure 2).

 

 

 

Effect on soil fertility

Post-harvest soil analysis was done and it was observed that soil fertility improved where organic sources fertilizers were applied. Application of VC @ 4t ha-1 and microbial inoculant along with RF significantly increased OM, available nitrogen, phosphorus and potash in soil over control. However, soil fertility improvement was observed in all treatments where organic and inorganic sources were applied except control. This improvement in soil health might be a factor that increase wheat yield. Pandey et al. (2009) also found improvement in soil fertility when FYM applied along with chemical fertilizers in wheat.

Economic analysis

For economic analysis, total production cost and total income were calculated separately. The total production included cost of POL for tillage practices, seed, Fertilizers, weedicides, vermicompost preparation cost, PSB and Threshing via combine harvester. These costs were calculated on the basis of inputs applied and then converted into per hectare area. Similarly output cost for grain and straw yield was calculated for all the treatments (Table 4).

 

Table 3: Post Harvest soil analysis.

Treatments

OM (%)

NO3N

(mg kg-1)

P

(mg kg-1)

K

(mg kg-1)

Control

0.28

4

3.32

104.67

RF

0.35

8

7.11

117.67

VC

0.44

10

8.14

120.00

PSB

0.30

6

6.11

101.00

RF+VC

0.48

11

8.34

121.67

RF+PSB

0.39

8

7.74

116.67

VC+PSB

0.46

10

8.48

109.67

RF+ VC+PSB

0.58

13

9.4

128.33

CV

3.46

10.94

9.58

3.55

LSD (0.05)

0.03

1.7

1.23

7.15

 

Table 4: Total input/ income cost and Output/production cost (Rs.).

Input/Management practices

Cost ha-1

(Rs.)

2017-18

Cost ha-1

(Rs.)

2018-19

Seed (Certified seed)

6500

6875

Fertilizer (Urea, DAP, SOP)

19250

21250

Vermicompost

12500

12500

PSB inoculants (NARC)

1500

1500

Harvest (Rs. 1500 Acre-1)

3750

3750

Weedicide (Buctral Super; 3L ha-1)

5000

5000

POL (Sowing, 03 tillages)

10000

12500

Total input cost

58500

63375

Total Output/Income Rs. ha-1

2017-18

2018-19

Grain Yield market Rate (Rs./40kg)

1200

1250

Straw market rate (Rs./40kg)

450

450

 

The economic analysis is the only tool, which compels the farmers to decide what to grow and what not to grow (Khan et al., 2009). Therefore, the economic analysis of agroecosystems is necessary for good management. Input cost of wheat in the first year varied from Rs. 25250 ha-1 for the control to Rs. 72500 ha-1 for T8 (RF+VC+PSB), and for 2nd year from Rs. 28125 ha-1 for the control to Rs. 63375 with treatment T8. The combined application of RF+VC and microbial inoculants given in different treatments no doubt increased cost of production for 1st year and for 2nd year, but also increased net return as Rs. 50781 ha-1 and Rs. 83669 ha-1 (T8) for 1st and 2nd year over control i.e Rs. -97 ha-1 and Rs. 12914 ha-1 (Tables 5 and 6). The economic value of wheat cultivation was improved with integrated nutrient application of organic, inorganic and biological sources as reported by Sharma et al. (2000) and Singh and Prasad (2011).

 

Table 5: Total Production cost and B:C for the year 2017-18.

Trt

Seed

(RS. /ha)

Fertilizers

(RS. /ha)

Weedicide

(RS. /ha)

Harvester

(RS. /ha)

POL

(RS. /ha)

T. Input (RS. /ha)

T. output (RS. /ha)

Net

(Rs./ha)

BC

T1

6500

0

5000

3750

10000

25250

25153

-97

1.00

T2

6500

33250

5000

3750

10000

58500

86372

41872

1.48

T3

6500

12500

5000

3750

10000

37750

54267

16517

1.44

T4

6500

1500

5000

3750

10000

26750

58100

31350

2.17

T5

6500

45750

5000

3750

10000

71000

89452

32452

1.26

T6

6500

34750

5000

3750

10000

60000

82617

36617

1.38

T7

6500

14000

5000

3750

10000

39250

70151

30901

1.79

T8

6500

47250

5000

3750

10000

72500

109281

50781

1.51

 

Table 6: Total Production cost and B:C for the year 2018-19.

Trt.

Seed

(RS. /ha)

Fertilizer (RS. /ha)

Weedicide (RS. /ha)

Harvester (RS. /ha)

POL

(RS. /ha)

T. Income (RS. /ha)

T. Output (RS. /ha)

Net

(Rs./ha)

BC

T1

6875

0

5000

3750

12500

28125

41039

12914

1.46

T2

6875

21250

5000

3750

12500

49375

86148

36773

1.74

T3

6875

12500

5000

3750

12500

40625

61667

21042

1.52

T4

6875

1500

5000

3750

12500

29625

64163

34538

2.17

T5

6875

33750

5000

3750

12500

61875

95136

33261

1.54

T6

6875

22750

5000

3750

12500

50875

106884

56009

2.10

T7

6875

14000

5000

3750

12500

42125

75280

33155

1.79

T8

6875

35250

5000

3750

12500

63375

147044

83669

2.32

T1: control; T2: Recommended fertilizers (RF) of NPK (120:85:60) in kg ha-1; T3: Vermicompost (VC) @ 4t ha-1; T4: Phosphorus Solubilizing Bacteria (PSB); T5: Recommended fertilizers (RF) + VC @ 4t ha-1; T6: Recommended fertilizers (RF) + PSB; T7: VC @ 4t ha-1 + PSB; T8: Recommended fertilizers (RF) + VC @ 4t ha-1 + PSB.

 

Conclusions and Recommendations

Number of yield and yield attributes were positively affected with combined application of vermicompost PSB and chemical fertilizers. It is also evident that application of organic sources particularly vermicompost can be an excellent organic fertilizer which improved soil physical and chemical properties that was reflected in wheat growth and production. It can also be concluded that if vermicompost is applied in combination with chemical fertilizers can be an alternative substitute of applying chemical fertilizers alone. As vermicompost is rich source of nutrients but have lower quantities of NPK than chemical fertilizers, it has to be applied in bulk quantity which may become costlier and uneconomical hence it should be applied in combination with PSB and chemical fertilizers which will not only boost plant yield but also be economical.

 

Novelty Statement

Integrated application of mineral fertilizers along with microbial inoculants and vermicompost not only increase the wheat production and economic returns but also improve the soil health

 

Author’s Contribution

Muhammad Arsaln: Conceived the idea, design and conducting experiment, paper writeup.

Sair Sarwar: Data recording, paper writeup and overall management of the article.

Rizwan Latif: Help in conducting experiment and data recoding.

Junaid Nawaz Chauhdary: Statistical analysis of data and arranging figures and tables.

Munazza Yousra: Data organization and paper review etc.

Shahbaz Ahmad: Technical inputs and provision of biofertilizer and compost for experiment

Conflict of interest

The authors have declared no conflict of interest.

 

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