Effects of organic amendment on early growth performance of Jatropha curcas L. on a severely degraded site in the Sub-Sahel of Burkina Faso

Type Journal Article - Agroforestry systems
Title Effects of organic amendment on early growth performance of Jatropha curcas L. on a severely degraded site in the Sub-Sahel of Burkina Faso
Volume 86
Issue 3
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2012
Page numbers 387-399
URL http://www.biodiversity-plants.de/downloads/SOP_et_al_2011_Jatropha_curcas_on_Zippele.pdf
The aim of this study was to evaluate the
effect of organic amendment on the germination and
growth patterns of Jatropha curcas L. on completely
barren and degraded land in the Sahelian area of
Burkina Faso. Prior to the field trials, laboratory
germination tests were undertaken to explore the
impact of different pre-treatments on germination of
Jatropha seeds. Seeds soaked in water for 24 h had
the highest mean rate of germination (86%) while
seeds that were pre-treated with sulphuric acid did
not germinate. The results of the field experiment
showed that plant growth and biomass development
were significantly enhanced by organic amendment
compared to the control. With direct seeding, 20% of
the plants treated with organic manure survived after
2 years, while all seedlings of the control plot
perished. In the plantations, 30% of the untreated
seedlings remained alive whereas only 5% of the
plants survived with amendment. The trials in
unfenced plots were decimated by livestock grazing
and trampling 2 months after the beginning of the
experiment. This emphasizes the need to protect
Jatropha plants at an early stage of their development
from roaming animals. Organic amendment attracted
humivorous termites, which were destructive to the
seedlings. The use of pesticides may be necessary to
control this problem. When directly seeded, plants of
the control plots demonstrated poor growth and
became rapidly diseased, further accelerating their
decline. The low survival rates (5–30%) and meagre
seedling performance, even for the amended plots,
may be an indication that Jatropha is unsuited to
severely degraded lands like the zippele´, and cannot
be expected to give good yields and the claimed
environmental and socio-economic benefits. However,
we recommend that the performance of Jatropha
on the zippele´should be further tested with other
soil and water conservation techniques (half-moon,
tillage, etc.) that have been shown to enhance crop
production and yield on degraded lands in the SaheloSudanian
zone of West Africa. The impact of seed
provenance on the outcome of this study is unknown.
Therefore, further experiments should embrace seeds
from different sources, including genotypes that are
more adapted to dry conditions and might therefore
show improved performance.

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