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ISSN : 1225-8504(Print)
ISSN : 2287-8165(Online)
Journal of the Korean Society of International Agriculture Vol.34 No.4 pp.285-292

Effect of Integrated Nutrient Management on Growth and Yield of Cabbage in Zimbabwe

Jean Kumbirayi Nzuma*†, Prettimore Mafirakureva*, Agrey Mbaya**, Lulu Muguyo*, Tapera Shirichena*, Young Sup Choi**, Leonard Madzingaidzo**
*Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre (SIRDC), Hatcliffe, Harare, Zimbabwe
**KOPIA Zimbabwe Centre, Hatcliffe, Harare, Zimbabwe
Corresponding author (Phone) +263-77-721-5688 (E-mail)
November 10, 2022 December 1, 2022 December 2, 2022


A field experiment was conducted at Chishaka, Wedza district in the province of Mashonaland East, Zimbabwe during the 2020/2021 cropping season to determine effect of integrated nutrient management (INM) on cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata) yields, net returns, and residual soil fertility. A total of six treatments were evaluated in a randomised complete block design (RCBD) with five replications. Treatments comprised T1 (control, 100% recommended chemical fertilizer), T2 (25% Cattle manure + 25% Chicken manure + 50% Ammonium nitrate), T3 (50% Compound S + 50% Chicken manure), T4 (50% Compound S + 25% Goat manure + 25% Chicken manure), T5 (farmer practice, 75% Compost + 25% Chicken manure), and T6 (50% Compost + 50% Chicken manure). All rates of organic manures were applied based on N equivalence. The soil was sandy loam with low soil organic carbon (1.28%), nitrogen (0.175%), and phosphorus (6.59 mg/kg) for all experimental plots. Results indicated that INM significantly improved soil and crop productivity. INM treatments T4, T3, and T2 recorded significantly maximum yield and yield components which were statistically at par. These treatments also gave the best strategy to improve major soil nutrients and maintain soil fertility. Similarly, the maximum net profit was obtained from combined application of treatments T4, T3, and T2. Treatment with 100% chemical fertiliser gave relatively lower yields and net benefit value than T4, T3, and T2. These results indicate that INM has the great potential to reduce the use of chemical fertilisers without decreasing soil fertility or crop yields. Therefore smallholder resource constrained farmers can adopt INM as a strategy, to enhance resource use efficiency and sustain soil health and crop productivity for improved livelihoods.

작물양분종합관리가 짐바브웨의 양배추 생육과 수확량에 미치는 영향

진 쿰비라이 쥬마*†, 프리티모아 마피라쿠레바*, 아그레이 바야**, 루루 무구요*, 타페라 쉬리케나*, 최 영섭**, 레오나드 마징가이조**
*짐바브웨 과학산업연구개발청
**코피아 짐바브웨 센터



    Smallholder farmers continue to experience nutrient limitations and low nutrient use efficiencies of particularly nitrogen (N) as a consequence of soil degradation (Zingore, 2015). In most cases nutrient replenishment using organic manure, crop residues and chemical fertiliser is insufficient to compensate for harvested nutrients and soil organic matter losses (Cobo et al., 2010, Tully et al., 2015).

    There is scope to promote integrated nutrient management (INM) as a more pragmatic, sustainable, low-cost and efficient approach to overcome soil fertility decline and sustain soil and crop productivity (Chivenge 2011, Vanlauwe, 2014). INM aims to increase crop productivity by maximizing the agronomic efficiency (AE) of fertilizer inputs through the combined application of chemical and organic resources. Research in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has shown that the combined application can lead to greater AE of N and crop productivity as compared to separate applications (Gentile et al., 2008, Chivenge et al., 2011, Gram et al., 2020).

    Combining chemical and organic nutrient sources ensures adequate supply and proportionate amounts of both macro and micro nutrients, necessary for long-term soil and crop productivity. This in turn can reduce the requirements of chemical fertilizers without compromising yields, making crop production affordable to farmers. Research suggests that combinations can reduce crop production cost by 25 to 50% and this largely depends on quality of organic materials (OM), nutrient release pattern, soil type and climate (Abedi et al., 2010, Sajib et al., 2015).

    Combined application has the potential to generate interactive effects between both resources, as the synchronization of N availability and plant uptake, both in quantity and time, may be improved through decomposition and subsequent N (im)mobilization processes. Thus, OM has the potential to increase growth of plant by improving the soil’s chemical attributes (nutrient availability, nutrient retention, nutrient cycling), physical properties of soil like bulk density, permeability, porosity, water holding capacity, and soil biological activities. Therefore, understanding how combining different quantities or ratios of organic manures and chemical fertilizers affects growth and yield of high value vegetable crops is extremely valuable for sustainable production.

    The main objectives of this study are to (i) identify and test the efficacy of integrated nutrient management models on productivity of vegetable crops with a main focus on cabbage (ii) assess the residual effect of INM (iii) determine the economics of the different integrated nutrient management models


    The research used a randomized block design with 6 Integrated Nutrient Management (INM) treatments which were replicated 5 times in lead farmer plots at Chishaka community gardens, Wedza district. The treatments were: T1 = 100% recommended chemical fertiliser (control); T2 = 25% Cattle manure + 25% Chicken manure + 50% Ammonium nitrate; T3 = 50% Compound S + 50% Chicken manure; T4 = 50% Compound S + 25% Goat manure + 25% Chicken manure; T5 = 75% Compost + 25% Chicken manure (Farmer practice); T6 = 50% Compost + 50% Chicken manure. The chemical composition of the manures used in the study is provided in Table 1. Chicken and goat manure were high in nitrogen content and had narrow C:N ratio compared to compost and cattle manure. All rates of organic manures were applied based on N equivalence.

    The dosage of the full fertilizer treatment (soil test based) was 700 kg compound S applied at transplanting and 250 kg/ha Ammonium Nitrate which was split applied three times i.e. at 21, 28, and 42 days after transplanting. The soil of the experimental site was sandy loam. The initial soil physico-chemical composition comprised 1.28% organic carbon, 0.175% as total N, 6.59% of available P, and 1.68 Cmol/kg soil of available K/ha. The soil texture was clay loam with a pH of 5.3 (CaCl2) (Table 2). Application of organic manures was done before planting by dosage per each treatment by scattering the manure evenly over the soil surface and then tilling thoroughly. The cabbage cultivar Kilmo was sown in the nursery and thirty five days-old seedlings were transplanted at a spacing of 60 cm × 30 cm planting. The crop was grown as per recommended package of practices. All other agronomic practices were kept constant across all treatments. The observation was recorded on growth parameters and yield attributes. Economic analysis and cost-benefit ratio were conducted to assess the viability of INM treatments.


    The data were summarized and subjected to an analysis of variance (ANOVA) using SPSS software. The mean values of treatments were compared using the Least Significant Difference (LSD) test at a 5% probability level.


    Growth and yield attributes

    Plant height (cm)

    Plant height was significantly (p<0.05) influenced by integrated nutrient management (Table 3). Highest plant height (32.2 cm) was recorded with the integrated application of 50% Compound S + 25% goat manure + 25%Chicken manure (treatment T4) which was statistically at par with T2 (31.2 cm) comprising 25% Cattle manure +25% chicken manure + 50% Ammonium nitrate and T3 (30.8 cm) with 50% Compound S + 50% Chicken manure). Treatment T1 with 100% chemical fertiliser recorded a significantly (p<0.05) low plant height (27.5 cm) but higher than the farmer practice i.e. treatment T5 (75% compost + 25% Chicken manure) which recorded a plant height of 20.5 cm.

    The improved growth and development observed in T4, T3 and T2 could be attributed to enhanced decomposition and mineralisation of the OMs in these treatments, which improved soil’s chemical attributes (nutrient availability, nutrient retention, nutrient cycling) for adequate supply throughout the growing season. In addition combinations with organic manures created the favourable root development environment (enhanced physical properties of soil such as bulk density, permeability, porosity, water holding capacity and soil biological activities) for absorption of moisture and nutrients over longer periods from the root zone to supply greater amounts of water to the crop improving vegetative growth. These results are in agreement with the findings of Abedi et al., (2010), Bilalis et al. (2012) and Kumazr et al., (2015) observed higher values of growth parameters due to combined application of chemical fertilisers and organic manures.

    Days to 80% head formation

    Table 3 shows that Integrated Nutrient Management positively and significantly (p<0.05) influenced days to 80% cabbage head formation. T4 was early (45.91days) and was at par with T3 (47,82days) and T2 (48.45days). There was a significant (p<0.05) delay in cabbage head formation with the 100% chemical fertiliser treatment T1 (55.71 days). Much delay was observed in the T5 -farmer practice (58.52days) and treatment T6 (65.67 days). Earliness in head formation in treatments T4, T3 and T2 was possibly due to well established rooting system, additional nutrients supplied by the different organic manures, improvements in soil physical properties, better absorption of balanced nutrients in the soil–plant system due to increased microbial and metabolic activity.

    Days to head maturity

    Integrated Nutrient Management also exhibited significant differences in the time taken for maturity of cabbage head (Table 3). The cabbage grown under treatment T4 matured earlier (70.8days) and was statistically at par with T3 (73.2 days) and T2 (71.7 days). These treatments matured earlier than the control treatment with full fertiliser rate (80.6 days) which was statistically significant (p<0.05). There was delayed maturity with treatment T5 – farmer’s practice (89.5days) and T6 (92.7days). These findings are also in agreement with Kumazr et al., (2015) who reported that the application of organic manure reduced the number of days to head maturity.

    Head diameter (cm)

    The application of various nutrient sources had a substantial impact on the diameter of cabbage head (Table 3). Maximum head diameter was from T4 (11.45 cm) which was statistically at par with treatment T2 and T3 but significantly different from the full chemical fertiliser treatment T10 (10.03 cm). The least diameter of head (8.02 cm and 9.12 cm) was recorded in T5 and T6.

    Average Head Weight (kg)

    Among the different Integrated Nutrient Management treatments, T4 recorded significantly (p<0.05) produced higher head weight values (3.70 kg) which did not differ statistically (p=0.05) with T2 (3.55 kg) and T3 (3.67 kg). Combined application of organic and chemical nutrient sources improved synergism and synchronization between nutrient release and plant recovery thus resulted in better crop growth and yield (Chivenge 2011, Gram et al., 2020). Whereas the 100% chemical fertiliser treatment (T1) gave head weight values (3.09 kg) which were significantly (p<0.05) lower than those from integrated nutrient management treatments (T4, T3 and T2). The low head weight in T1 can be attributed to poor nutrient use efficiency of applied fertiliser due to low organic carbon content (1.28%) of the experimental soil (Table 2). These findings concur with those from several studies which indicated that N use efficiency is improved with application of organic manure (Güereña et al., 2016, Harpal Singh et al., 2018)

    Marketable yield (t/ha)

    Integrated Nutrient Management lead to positive interactions which impacted on AE and yield (Fig 1). Ultimate yields were affected by both N rate and organic resource quality. There was high productivity (p<0.05) from T4, T3 and T2 combinations (18.89t/haj 15.35t/ha and 17.75t/ha respectively) with the exception of treatments T5 and T6 (7.45tha and 5.05t/ha respectively). The superior in yields from T4, T3 and T2 might have been due to the availability of nutrients throughout the growth period. The synergistic impact of OM in these treatments could potentially have supplemented the chemical fertilizers to rapidly supply the immediately required nutrients to crop plants. In addition, OM possibly improved soil physical properties including soil structural stability and greater soil water availability. This coupled with low N input rates of the manures (25%, N equivalence) resulted in positive interactions leading to improved growth and optimal yields. (Gram et al., 2020).

    The treat with 100% chemical fertiliser significantly depressed (p<0.05). Sole application of the chemical fertiliser resulted in reduced nutrient use efficiency depressing growth.

    Conclusively, to obtain the best potential results, 50% of total N requirements should be made available in the form of organic manures and 50% in the form of chemical fertiliser. This makes production ecologically sound, cost effective, profitable and sustainable. These results are in accordance with the findings of other studies on different crops (Abedi et al., 2010, and Chivenge et al., 2011).

    Net income (USD/ha)

    Net income of different nutrient management packages of cabbage is presented in Table 4. Results show that the net income varies with different integrated nutrient management practices. The highest net return was in T4 treatment ($2,007.48) which was statistically at par with T2 and T3 ($1, 951. 65 and $1,899.85 respectively). The T1 treatment with 100% chemical fertiliser gave a net return ($1,715.50) significantly lower than T4, T3 and T2. The lowest net return ($588.67) was in the treatment T5 (farmer's practice). These findings suggest that integrated nutrient management reduces cost of chemical fertiliser compared with sole application of the chemical fertiliser making production viable.

    Several studies have reported that INM can reduce the chemical fertilizer requirement of N between 25 to 30% by producing more soil N and organic carbon (Bandyopadhyay et al., 2010, Güereña et al., (2016), Harpal Singh et al., 2018). Key is to identify appropriate combinations compatible with socio-economic context of farmers which can be synchronised with chemical fertiliser to release balanced nutrients at the time the crops needs nutrients most for higher plant uptake and growth. This study has identified INM models that offer socio-economic options to farmers to sustainably improve production and productivity and profitability of cabbage and this can be extended to other vegetable crops for adaptation.

    Benefit Cost Ratio of Cabbage

    Benefit cost ratio varied significantly among the INM treatments (Table 4). The highest benefit cost ratio (3.02) was found in T4 which was statistically similar to T2 (2.85) and T3 (2.73). Substituting a portion of chemical fertiliser requirements by OM reduced the chemical fertiliser input costs in these treatments (T4, T3 and T2) whilst creating good soil environment which increased production. Consequently, the plants produced better yields of quality leading to good marketable selling price which influenced the highest benefit cost ratio compared to treatment T1 (100% recommended chemical fertiliser)

    There were some nutritional changes in the residual soil fertility of the INM experimental plots (Table 5). These were due to addition of organic manures which resulted in favourable chemical properties of soil. Soil organic carbon (SOC) of post-harvest INM soils increased between 1.37% and 1.75% from an initial value of 1.28%. Whereas the 100% chemical fertiliser treatment showed a remarkable decrease in SOC (0.88%). Thus, treatments with organic inputs enhanced soil organic matter; reduced the risk of mining and subsequent SOC losses than the chemical fertiliser treatment where no organic inputs were applied (Kibunja et al., 2012 Sommer et al., 2018). A meta-analysis conducted by Chivenge et al., (2011) confirmed that application of chemical fertiliser alone reduces SOC and that organic inputs are necessary to restore and maintain soil organic matter pools. Other soil quality parameters also deteriorated in residual soil samples of the chemical fertiliser treatment than in treatments supplied with organic inputs which possibly led to improved nutrient cycling processes, C and N mineralisation and increases in microbial pool sizes (Chivenge et al., 2011, Ali et al. 2018).


    The study demonstrated that the integrated application of organic manures and chemical fertilizers was effective in enhancing economic productivity of cabbage without deteriorating soil health. These results have the great potential for reducing the use of chemical fertilizers without decreasing the yield of cabbage. Treatments T2 (25% Cattle manure + 25% Chicken manure + 50% Ammonium nitrate); T3 (50% Compound S + 50% Chicken manure) and T4 (50% Compound S + 25% Goat manure + 25% Chicken manure) proved to be extremely viable for cultivating cabbage.

    Combinations with the highest quality organic resources (50:50) increased yields by at least 20% and were effective in reducing SOC losses. Such combinations have implications in long term sustainability of soil and crop productivity. In areas where goat and cattle manure is limited, chicken manure can be used in combination with fertiliser and vice versa. In contrast, compost may be of limited use because of its low quality unless farmers are fully capacitated through training to produce compost of high value.

    Based on this study high quality organics at low application rate can effectively be combined with a portion of chemical fertiliser to (i) supplement the remaining nutrients and rapidly supply adequate plant nutrients (ii) reduce the dosage of costly chemical fertilisers up to 25-50% (iii) gain higher crop productivity and agricultural sustainability (iii) enhance economic returns (iv) minimize the risks of soil degradation and fertility depletion (v) contribute to reducing harmful effects of chemical fertiliser on soil health and environment

    Key is to determine best fit combinations through an understanding of the nutrient composition of the manures and their nutrient release patterns relative to soil type. Given the observed soil-based positive aspects of OM and their synergistic effects with chemical fertilisers, the recommended INM models for sustaining soil and crop productivity would be the following combinations: (i) 50% Compound S + 25% goat manure + 25%Chicken manure (ii) 50% Compound S + 50% Chicken manure (iii) 25% Cattle manure +25% chicken manure + 50% Ammonium nitrate



    Effect of Integrated Nutrient Management on marketable yield of cabbage (t/ha), (n=5).

    T1 = 100% recommended chemical fertiliser (control); T2 = 25% Cattle manure + 25% Chicken manure + 50% Ammonium nitrate; T3 = 50% Compound S + 50% Chicken manure; T4 = 50% Compound S + 25% Goat manure + 25% Chicken manure; T5 = 75% Compost + 25% Chicken manure (Farmer practice); T6 = 50% Compost + 50% Chicken manure


    Pictorial Images of Cabbages from different INM models


    Chemical composition of organic resources used in the study.

    Initial physico-chemical properties of soils used in this study (n=5).

    Growth and yield attributes of cabbage (Kilmo variety) as affected by Integrated Nutrient Management.

    Economical effects of INM systems on cabbage and chemical properties of soils of the experimental site.

    Impacts of Integrated Nutrient Management on residual soil fertility.


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