Integrated Soil Fertility Management: Impact of Mucuna and Tithonia Biomass on Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum L.) Performance in Smallholder Farming Systems


Many views, paradigms and concepts have been advocated in recent decades on soil fertility and soil conservation across the globe in order to provide sustainable solutions to the rising food and nutrition insecurity while preserving the natural resource base. Meanwhile, food and nutrition security in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is mainly achieved through smallholder farming systems that are characterized by poor and declining soil fertility, which often leads to low crop yields and low income. Hence, a field trial was established to evaluate the impact of integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) practices on tomato yield and the farm-scale income in smallholder farming systems. The ISFM trial comprised a control with no input, mineral fertilizer, and organic treatments comprising sole Mucuna and Tithonia biomasses as well as their combination (Mucuna + Tithonia). Generally, tomato performance was better with organic plant biomass amendments, with significantly higher (P < 0.001) tomato yield for Mucuna + Tithonia and sole Tithonia, followed by sole Mucuna and mineral fertilizer compared to the control. Meanwhile in comparison to the control, Mucuna + Tithonia and sole Tithonia recorded 3.5 and 3.4 t ha-1 more yield, respectively, which was about twice the additional yield for sole Mucuna and mineral fertilizer with 1.8 and 1.5 t ha-1, respectively (Tukey’s HSD, P < 0.05). Similarly, the farm-scale income increased significantly (P < 0.001) for organic plant biomass, and it was most pronounced for Mucuna + Tithonia and sole Tithonia, followed by sole Mucuna and mineral fertilizer, as compared to the control (Tukey’s HSD, P < 0.05). A positive Spearman Rank Correlation was recorded between the ISFM treatments and tomato yield or the farm-scale income (r = 0.76, P < 0.05), and between tomato yield and the farm-scale income (r = 0.99, P < 0.05). These results imply that smallholder farmers in SSA can effectively use the combination of Mucuna + Tithonia biomass materials or their sole applications as basal mulch to improve tomato production. Thus, these organic amendments could be an alternative and sustainable integrated soil fertility management strategy to boost tomato production and farm-scale income without jeopardizing the sustainability of the environment. However, this requires more efforts to adapt the different ISFM techniques to the specific needs of smallholder farmers, coupled with effective dissemination strategies that facilitate knowledge transfer and technology adoption.

Share and Cite:

Ngosong, C. , M. Mfombep, P. , C. Njume, A. and S. Tening, A. (2015) Integrated Soil Fertility Management: Impact of Mucuna and Tithonia Biomass on Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum L.) Performance in Smallholder Farming Systems. Agricultural Sciences, 6, 1176-1186. doi: 10.4236/as.2015.610112.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Kadiata, B.D. and Lumpungu, K. (2003) Differential Phosphorus Uptake and Use Efficiency among Selected Nitrogen-Fixing Tree Legumes over Time. Journal of Plant Nutrition, 26, 1009-1022.
[2] Sanginga, N., Lyasse, O., Diels, J. and Merckx, R. (2003) Balanced Nutrient Management Systems for Cropping Systems in the Tropics: From Concept to Practice. Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Environment, 100, 99-102.
[3] Bationo, A., Hartemink, A., Lungu, O., Naimi, M., Okoth, P., Smaling, E. and Thiombiano, L. (2006) African Soils: Their Productivity and Profitability of Fertilizer Use. Proceedings of the African Fertilizer Summit, Abuja, 9-13 June 29.
[4] FAO (2007) Policies and Actions to Stimulate Private Sector Fertilizer Marketing in Sub-Saharan Africa. Agricultural Management, Marketing and Finance Occasional Paper 15.
[5] Smaling, E.M.A. and Braun, A.R. (1996) Soil Fertility Research in Sub-Saharan Africa: New Dimensions, New Challenges. Communication in Soil Science, 7, 365-386.
[6] Sanchez, P. and Jama, B. (2002) Soil Fertility Replenishment Takes off in East and Southern Africa. In: Vanlauwe, B., Diels, J., Sanginga, N. and Merckx, R., Eds., Integrated Plant Nutrient Management in Sub-Saharan Africa: From Concept to Practice, CABI, Wallingford, 23-46.
[7] Sanchez, P.A. (2002) Soil Fertility and Hunger in Africa. Science, 129, 2019-2020.
[8] Bekunda, B., Sanginga, N. and Woomer, P.L. (2010) Restoring Soil Fertility in Sub-Sahara Africa. Advances in Agronomy, 108, 184-236.
[9] Vanlauwe, B., Bationo, A., Giller, K.E., Merckx, R., Mokwunye, U., Ohiokpehai, O., Pypers, P., Tabo, R., Shepherd, K.D., Smaling, E.M.A., Woomer, P.L. and Sanginga, N. (2010) Integrated Soil Fertility Management. Operational Definition and Consequences for Implementation and Dissemination. Outlook on Agriculture, 39, 17-24.
[10] Kuba, T., Tschöll, A., Partl, C., Meyer, K. and Insam, H. (2008) Wood Ash Admixture to Organic Wastes Improves Compost and Its Performance. Agriculture, Ecosystem and Environment, 127, 43-49.
[11] Bougnom, B.P. and Insam, H. (2009) Ash Additives to Compost Affect Soil Microbial Communities and Apple Seedling Growth. Die Bodenkultur, 60, 9-19.
[12] Noble, A.D., Zenneck, I. and Randall, P.J. (1996) Leaf Litter Ash Alkalinity and Neutralisation of Soil Acidity. Plant and Soil, 179, 293-302.
[13] Adoyo, F., Mukalam, J.B. and Enyola, M. (1999) Using Tithonia Concoctions for Termite Control in Busia District, Kenya. ILEIA Newsletter, 13, 24-25.
[14] Bougnom, B.P., Mair, J., Etoa, F.X. and Insam, H. (2009) Composts with Wood Ash Addition: A Risk or a Chance for Ameliorating Acid Tropical Soils? Geoderma, 153, 402-407.
[15] Bougnom, B.P., Knapp, B.A., Elhottová, D., Koubovác, A., Etoa, F.X. and Insam, H. (2010) Designer Compost with Biomass Ashes for Ameliorating Acid Tropical Soils: Effects on the Soil Microbiota. Applied Soil Ecology, 45, 319-324.
[16] Olabode, O.S., Sola, O., Akanbi, W.B., Adesina, G.O. and Babajide, P.A. (2007) Evaluation of Tithonia diversifolia (Hemsl.) A Gray for Soil Improvement. World Journal of Agricultural Sciences, 3, 503-507.
[17] Agbede, T.M. and Afolabi, L.A. (2014) Soil Fertility Improvement Potentials of Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia) and Siam Weed (Chromolaena odorata) Using Okra as Test Crop. Archives of Applied Science Research, 6, 42-47.
[18] Jama, B., Palm, C.A., Buresh, R.J., Niang, A., Gachengo, C. and Nziguheba, G. (2000) Tithonia diversifolia as a Green Manure for Soil Fertility Improvement in Western Kenya: A Review. Agroforestry Systems, 49, 201-221.
[19] Ojeniyi, S.O., Odedina, S.A. and Agbede, T.M. (2012) Soil Productivity Improving Attributes of Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia) and Siam Weed (Chromolaena odorata). Emirates Journal of Food and Agriculture, 24, 243-247.
[20] Agbede, T.M., Adekiya, A.O. and Ogeh, J.S. (2014) Response of Soil Properties and Yam Yieldto Chromolaena odorata (Asteraceae) and Tithonia diversifolia (Asteraceae) Mulches. Archives of Agronomy and Soil Science, 60, 209-224.
[21] Mathews, J., Joseph, K., Lakshmanan, R., Jose, G., Kothandaraman, R. and Jacob, C.K. (2003) Effect of Bradyrhizobium Inoculation on Mucuna bracteata and Its Impact on the Properties of Soil under Hevea. Proceedings of the 6th International PGPR Workshop, 5-10 October 2003, Calicut, 29-33.
[22] Mathews, J. and Leong, T.T. (2000) Performance of Two New Legume Species in Oil Palm Planting. In: Pushparajah, E., Ed., Proceedings of the International Planters Conference on Plantation Tree Crops in the New Millenium: The Way Ahead, Volume 1, The Incorporated Society of Planters, Kuala Lumpur, 325-339.
[23] Shaharudin, B. and Yow, T.K. (2000) Establishment of Leguminous Cover Plant (Mucuna bracteata). Poster Presentation, The Incorporated Society of Planters, Kuala Lumpur, 17-20 May 2000, 317-323.
[24] Chiu, S.B. and Bisad, M. (2006) Mucuna bracteata—Biomass, Litter and Nutrient Production. The Planter, 82, 247-254.
[25] Vargas-Ayala, R., Rodríguez-Kábana, R., Morgan-Jones, G., McInroy, J.A. and Kloepper, J.W. (2000) Shifts in Soil Microflora Induced by Velvetbean (Mucuna deeringiana) in Cropping Systems to Control Root-Knot Nematodes. Biological Control, 17, 11-22.
[26] Rayavarapu, A.K. and Kaladhar, D.S.V.G.K. (2011) Evaluation of Antimicrobial Activity of Mucuna pruriens on Plant Pathogens. Asian Journal Biochemical and Pharmaceutical Research, 2, 593-600.
[27] Pujari, S.A. and Gandhi, M.B. (2013) Studies on Effects of Seed and Leaf Extracts of Mucuna pruriens on Some Common Bacterial Pathogens. Journal of Environmental Research and Development, 8, 50-54.
[28] Cheek, M. (1992) A Botanical Inventory of Mabeta-Moliwe Forest. Report to ODA/MCP, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 122.
[29] Fraser, P., Banks, H., Brodie, M., Cheek, M., Daroson, S., Healey, J., Marsden, J., Ndam, N., Nning, J. and McRobb, A. (1999) Plant Succession on the 1922 Lava Flow of Mt. Cameroon. In: Timberlake, J. and Kativu, S., Eds., African Plants: Biodiversity, Taxonomy and Uses, Royal Botanic Garden, Kew, 253-262.
[30] Payton, R.W. (1993) Ecology, Altitudinal Zonation and Conservation of Tropical Rainforest of Mount Cameroon. Final Project-Report R4600, ODA, London.
[31] Fraser, P.J., Hall, J.B. and Healing, J.R. (1998) Climate of the Mount Cameroon Region, Long and Medium Term Rainfall, Temperature and Sunshine Data. School of Agricultural and Forest Sciences, University of Wales Bangor, MCP-LBG, Limbe, 56 p.
[32] Agbede, T.M., Adekiya, A.O. and Ogeh, J.S. (2013) Effects of Chromolena and Tithonia Mulches on Soil Properties, Leaf Nutrient Composition, Growth and Yam Yield. West African Journal of Applied Ecology, 21, 15-29.
[33] StatSoft (2010) STATISTICA 9. 1 for Windows. StatSoft Inc., Tusla.
[34] The Economist (2011) The 9 Billion-People Question: A Special Report on Feeding the World. February 26, 2011.
[35] Kolawole, O.K., Awodun, M.A. and Ojeniyi, S.O. (2014) Soil Fertility Improvement by Tithonia diversifolia (Hemsl.) A Gray and Its Effect on Cassava Performance and Yield. International Journal of Engineering and Science, 3, 36-43.
[36] Opara-Nadi, O. (1993) Effect of Elephant Grass and Plastic Mulches on Soil Properties and Cowpea Yield on an Ultisol in Southeastern Nigeria. In: Mulongoy, K. and Merckx, R., Eds., Soil Organic Matter Dynamic and Sustainability of Tropical Agriculture, John Wiley and Sons, Chichester, 351-360.
[37] Ojeniyi, S.O. and Adetoro, A.O. (1993) Use of Chromolaena Mulch to Improve Yield of Late Season Tomato. Nigerian Journal of Technical Education, 10, 144-149.
[38] Kothandaraman, R., Mathew, J., Krishnakumar, A.K., Joseph, K., Jayarathnam, K. and Sethuraj, M.R.M. (1989) Comparative Efficiency of Mucuna bracteata D.C. and Peuraria phaseoloides Benth. On Soil Nutrient Enrichment, Microbial Population and Growth of Hevea. Indian Journal of Natural Rubber Research, 2, 147-150.
[39] Awodun, M.A. and Ojeniyi, S.O. (1999) Use of Weed Mulches for Improving Soil Fertility and Maize Performance. Applied Tropical Agriculture, 2, 26-30.
[40] Baldi, E., Toselli, M., Eissenstat, D.M. and Marangoni, B. (2010) Organic Fertilization Leads to Increased Peach Root Production and Lifespan. Tree Physiology, 30, 1373-1382.
[41] Boukcim, H., Pages, L. and Mousain, D. (2006) Local or Supply Modifies the Root System Architecture of Cedrus atlantica Seedlings Grown in a Split Root Device. Journal of Plant Physiology, 163, 1293-1304.
[42] Concheri, G., Nardi, S., Reniero, F. and Dell’ Agnola, G. (1996) The Effects of Humic Substances within the Ah Horizon of a Calcic Luvisol on Morphological Changes Related to Invertase and Peroxidase Activities in Wheat Roots. Plant Soil, 179, 65-72.
[43] Canellas, L.P., Olivares, F.L., Okorokova-Facanha, A.L. and Facanha, A.R. (2002) Humic Acids Isolated from Earthworm Compost Enhance Root Elongation, Lateral Root Emergence, and Plasma Membrane H+-ATPase Activity in Maize Roots. Plant Physiololgy, 130, 1951-1957.
[44] Babajide, P.A., Olabode, O.S., Akanbi, W.B., Olatunji, O.O. and Ewetola, E.A. (2008) Influence of Composted Tithonia Biomass and N-Mineral Fertilizer on Soil Physico-Chemical Properties and Performance of Tomato (Lycopersicon lycopersicum). Research Journal of Agronomy, 2, 101-106.
[45] Vlek, P.L.G. (1990) The Role of Fertilizers in Sustaining Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa. Fertilizer Research, 26, 327-339.
[46] Heisey, P.W. and Mwangi, W. (1996) Fertilizer Use and Maize Production in Sub-Saharan Africa. CIMMYT Economics Working Paper 96-01, CIMMYT, Mexico.
[47] CIMMYT (1988) From Agronomic Data to Farmer Recommendations. An Economics Training Manual. Completely revised Edition, Mexico DF.
[48] Lee, D.R. (2005) Agricultural Sustainability and Technology Adoption: Issues and Policies for Developing Countries. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 87, 1325-1334.
[49] Rosegrant, M.W., Koo, J., Cenacchi, N., Ringler, C., Robertson, R., Fisher, M., Cox, C., Garrett, K., Perez, N.C. and Sabbagh, P. (2014) Food Security in a World of Natural Resource Scarcity: The Role of Agricultural Technologies. International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington DC, 154 p.
[50] Knowler, D. and Bradshaw, B. (2007) Farmers’ Adoption of Conservation Agriculture: A Review and Synthesis of Recent Research. Food Policy, 32, 25-48.
[51] Meertens, H.C.C. (2003) The Prospects for Integrated Nutrient Management for Sustainable Rainfed Lowland Rice Production in Sukumaland, Tanzania. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystem, 65, 163-171.
[52] Chianu, J.N. and Tsujii, H. (2005) Integrated Nutrient Management in the Farming Systems of the Savannas of Northern Nigeria: What Future? Outlook Agriculture, 34, 197-202.
[53] Tanimu, J., Lyocks, S.W.J. and Tanimu, Y. (2012) Growth and Biomass Production Assessment of Some Herbaceous Legumes for Soil Conservation in Nigeria. Journal of Occupational Safety and Environmental Health, 1, 38-44.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.