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Masters Degrees (Crop Science)

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    Dormancy breaking methods and priming techniques to improve seed germination in gynandropsis gynandra (L.) briq syn cleome gynandra L. (Cleomaceae).
    (2022) Mangena, Khungeka.; Odindo, Alfred Oduor.
    Gynandropsis gynandra, commonly known as spider plant, is a leafy vegetable that belongs to the Cleomaeae family. Spider plant is used for its medicinal properties, but also as a nutritional supplement, and an animal (e.g., cows) feed. Farmers experience low and uneven germination when planting this species that studies ascribed to physiological dormancy which leads to low and uneven germination. The study was conducted to understand mechanisms involved in breaking dormancy in spider plant seeds. The objectives were (a) to determine the effects of packaging materials and storage period on seed germination, and (b) to determine the effects of priming agents and duration on seed germination of G. gynandra. These objectives were achieved through two experiments based on six accessions of G. gynandra originated from West Africa, East Africa, and Asia. In the first experiment, the seeds were stored for four months at room temperature of 25℃ in brown paper bags, aluminium foil paper, and black polystyrene bags. After every storage period, the seeds were tested for electrical conductivity (EC), viability using tetrazolium chloride and germination ability to study the effects of storage period and packaging material on seed viability and vigor of G. gynandra. In the second experiment, the six accessions were subjected to two priming agents, PEG-4000, and distilled water, and tested for germination. Final germination percentage (FGP), mean germination time (MGT), mean germination rate (MGR), coefficient of the velocity of germination (CVG), and radicle length (RL) were recorded. Data analysis was done using Genestat version 20th edition (VSN International, United Kingdom) at a 5% level of significance. The study showed that G. gynandra fresh seeds displayed physiological dormancy which can be broken by storing seeds for at least two months depending on the genotype in aluminium foil paper. In this study, seed priming with PEG-4000 and distilled water had no effect on seed germination of G. gynandra.
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    Evaluation of bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea (L.) Verdc) accessions for drought tolerance and yield performance using agro- morphological and physiological traits.
    (2021) Kunene, Sithembile Purity.; Odindo, Alfred Oduor.; Abe Shegro, Gerrano.
    Abstract available in PDF.
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    Response of primed soybean (Glycine max L.) to storage duration and ambient conditions.
    (2022) Buthelezi, Zuzumuzi Sizwe.; Odindo, Alfred Oduor.
    Abstract available in PDF.
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    Assessing the potential use of struvite and effluent from decentralized wastewater treatment systems (dewats) as plant nutrient sources for early maize ( zea mays) growth.
    (2021) Sokhela, Fortunate Sthabile.; Odindo, Alfred Oduor.; Muchaonyerwa, Pardon.
    The Decentralised Wastewater Treatment System (DEWATS) effluent has been shown to contain considerable concentrations of mineral elements such as nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), which are important for plant growth. The use of effluent for agriculture as a sole nutrient source is limiting in terms of macronutrient and micronutrient content supplied to plants. There is little information about the effects of combining the effluent with struvite and commercial fertilizer for crop production. The study aimed to determine the effect of applying struvite and DEWATS effluent as nutrient sources combined or in combination with urea/single superphosphate (SSP) fertilizers on the growth, nutrient uptake, and biomass production of maize. The specific objectives were: (1) to determine N and P release pattern of struvite when applied solely or combined with urea relative to SSP fertilizers combined with urea in a sandy soil, (2) to determine N and P release pattern of DEWATS effluent applied solely or combined with struvite and or SSP fertilizers in a sandy soil, (3) to investigate the effect of applying struvite and DEWATS effluent as nutrient sources combined together or with urea/SSP fertilizers on the growth, nutrient uptake and biomass production of maize. Two soil incubation experiments were set up under controlled room temperature at 25oC and 80% atmospheric humidity to determine the N and P release pattern of human excreta derived materials (HEDMs) (struvite and DEWATS effluent) with supplementary chemical fertilisers urea and SSP. The first experiment was laid out as a single factor analysis with the following treatments: (i) struvite alone, (ii) urea alone, (iii) SSP alone, (iv) struvite + urea, (v) SSP + urea. Each treatment was replicated 3 times to give 15 experimental units (in 5 litre ventilated containers). The second experiment was also laid out as a single factor comprising the following treatments: (i) effluent alone, (ii) struvite + effluent, (iii) effluent + SSP, and (iv) a control, all replicated 3 times to give 12 experimental units (in 5 litre ventilated containers). The fertiliser materials were applied to achieve an equivalent of 200 kg N/ha and 60 kg P/ha to meet maize nutrient requirements from the Cartref (sandy soil). The effluent in the study was applied as an irrigation source to achieve a 100% soil water holding capacity while supplying nutrients at the same time. Data was collected on the ammonium N, nitrate N, and extractable P release weekly, for 56 days. A pot trial was set up in 20 litre pots in the tunnel at 26oC air temperature and 65% atmospheric humidity to determine the effect of applying struvite and treated effluent from the anaerobic filters (AF) on growth, nutrient uptake, and biomass production of maize. The pot experiment was set up as a 9 x 2 factorial experiment in a completely randomised design (CRD) with the following treatments: fertilizer combinations (8 levels- (i) struvite + urea (recommended rates); (ii) ) struvite + urea (half recommended), (iii) struvite + effluent (recommended rates); (iv) struvite + effluent (half recommended); (v) SSP + effluent (recommended rates); (vi) SSP + effluent (half recommended); (vii) SSP + urea (recommended rates); (viii) SSP + urea (half recommended) and the control. The second treatment was maize variety with 2 levels –‘Colorado’ and ‘IMAS’. The treatments were replicated three times. Three maize seeds were planted per pot and were thinned 3 weeks after planting to one plant per pot. The amount of water applied as irrigation was based on Cartref soil water requirements. Soil moisture was maintained at 70-100% field capacity. The soil incubation experiment showed that there were significant (P<0.05) differences among treatments- struvite (S), effluent (E), SSP (P), urea (U), struvite + urea (SU), struvite + effluent (SE), effluent + SSP (PE), SSP + urea (PU) and zero fertilizer. The combination of HEDMs and commercial nutrient sources released higher ammonium-N and nitrate-N than sole applications and when commercial SSP + urea was applied together. Ammonium N declined over time and nitrate N increased rapidly over time. The findings suggested that the fertiliser combination of HEDMs and commercial fertiliser increased nutrient N availability to the soil. Phosphorus did not change over time in all treatments. The pot experiment result showed that there were significant (P<0.05) differences observed in plant height, leaf number, chlorophyll content, dry matter, N and P uptake, and grain + cob yields among the different fertiliser combinations (SE, SU, PE, PU) at both recommended and half recommended application rates. In conclusion, optimising N and P supply through a combination of the effluent and struvite or with inorganic fertilisers could potentially be considered as a better option for providing a balanced supply of nutrients than when applied separately.
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    Application and evaluation of aquacrop, dssat and simple model in modelling yield water use of selected underutilised cereal crops.
    (2021) Nzimande, Thembelihle Nkosingiphile Millicent.; Mabhaudhi, Tafadzwanashe.; Chimonyo, Vimbayi Grace Petrova.
    The study compared yield, biomass, and water use (WU) for maize, sorghum, and millet simulated using three crop models of varying complexity: AquaCrop, DSSAT and the SIMPLE model. The hypothesis was that there is no significant difference between simple and complex models of estimating yield, biomass and WU. A standard set of crop parameters was used to develop crop files for all three models. Similar soil, climate and management descriptions attained from the Ukulinga Research Farm were used across the models. Six general circulation models (GCMs) were used as climate input data to model past, present, mid-, and late-century climate change impacts on cereal crops. The effect of irrigation (as a management practice) on yield and water use was assessed using the mid-century projections. The performance of the three models was observed to be statistically different. Based on the mean bias error, all models overestimated yield, but the lowest overestimation was with AquaCrop (0.22 t/ha) followed by DSSAT (0.24 t/ha) and the SIMPLE model (0.69 t/ha). Other statistical indicators, viz., RMSE and R2, illustrate that the simulation of yield and WP in AquaCrop was more satisfactory than DSSAT and the SIMPLE model. Across all the time scales, it was observed that AquaCrop simulated the highest yield and biomass, and the SIMPLE model simulated the lowest yield across the GCMs, which were inconsistent. Applying a higher amount of irrigation at more frequent intervals resulted in higher yield, biomass and WP. AquaCrop showed the highest simulated mean yield for maize (8.34 t/ha), millet (6.86 t/ha) and sorghum (5.28 t/ha). Highest WP was observed under AquaCrop for maize (21 kg/ha/mm) and millet (15.10 kg/ha/mm), the SIMPLE model for sorghum (13.37 kg/ha/mm). The study confirms that DSSAT requires relatively more input data but does not always perform more satisfactorily. The SIMPLE model requires fewer input requirements than AquaCrop and DSSAT; however, it is less sensitive to management changes. AquaCrop had relatively incomparable results to DSSAT and the SIMPLE model and was observed as the most suitable model for simulating yield, biomass, and WU of the selected cereal NUS under climate change and irrigation management scenarios. Before their application, it is essential to calibrate crop growth parameters for local conditions or use parameters from local field studies when applying complex crop models such as DSSAT specifically for marginal environments, such as South Africa. On the other hand, AquaCrop performed reasonably well with minimal input requirements, confirming its application in datalimited and marginal environments. However, it is recommended that there must be calibration for all the models using inputs specific to locations.
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    Assessing the fertiliser value of co-composted biochar compost made from black soldier fly larvae faecal residue.
    (2021) Nkomo, Nqobile.; Odindo, Alfred Oduor.; Missengue, Roland.
    The Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL) technology can treat faecal sludge emptied from full Urine Diverting Dry Toilets (UDDT’s). A residue containing residual mineral elements such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), and high organic matter, pathogens, and potentially heavy metals is left behind. Improper disposal of the residue can pose a challenge and lead to environmental pollution and health threats. However, there is potential for recycling BSFL Residue. The fertiliser value of BSFL Residue as an organic fertiliser has not been studied in South Africa. This study was carried out to evaluate the use of co-composted biochar compost made from BSFL Residue as a plant nutrient source for maize production. The residue was pyrolysed for 120, 90, and 60 minutes at 300 °C, for 60 and 45 minutes at 400 °C, and 60, 45, and 30 minutes at 500 °C. Biochar pyrolysed at 300,400, and 500 °C for 60, 45, and 30 minutes, respectively, was not burned and was analysed for physico-chemical, and biological characteristics. Biochar yield decreased significantly with increasing pyrolysis temperature. Surface area, pH, extractable phosphorus (P), exchangeable bases, trace metals significantly increased with pyrolysis temperature. Pathogens were destroyed with pyrolysis. Biochar pyrolysed at 500 °C for 30 minutes was chosen based on its characteristics as a bulking agent in the co-composting experiment. Co-composting of the residue was carried out, and chemical and physical characteristics of BSFL Residue composts (COMBI (compost with biochar) and (COMP (compost without biochar)) were compared to chicken manure (CM) and BSFL Heated Residue (HR). pH and exchangeable bases in BSFL Residue COMBI were higher than BSFL Residue Compost but less than BSFL HR and CM. Composting with biochar significantly increased trace elements, water holding capacity, total P, and total N in the BSFL Residue COMBI compared to BSFL Residue Compost. The BSFL Residue COMBI, BSFL Residue COMP, BSFL Residue, HR, CM, Chemical Commercial Fertiliser (CCF), and control were incubated in a sandy Cartref soil over a 112-day incubation period to determine phosphorus and nitrogen release patterns. Phosphorus decreased in all treatments during the first 21 days except for the control. Phosphorus release started after day 21, and the pattern for BSFL Residue COMBI and BSFL residue Compost were comparable, indicating the potential of using these amendments for crop production. Chicken manure had the least phosphorus released at the end of the incubation. Ammonium decreased with a concomitant increase in nitrates for all treatments. Nitrate release was lower for BSFL Residue COMBI compared to BSFL Residue Compost. An additional source of N is needed if BSFL Residue COMBI is to be used as a fertiliser based on P. The highest nitrate release was observed in CM. Amendments used in the incubation were used at the recommended and double recommended application rate to grow maize in a greenhouse pot trial. Statistically similar yields were obtained in grain harvested from COMBI, COMP CCF, and CM. More researchshould be carried out on the residual effect of BSFL COMBI on subsequent maize growth to establish possible residual fertility on the second cycle of growth. Keywords: biochar; biochar co-compost; black soldier fly larvae;faecal matter; fertiliser-value; nutrient recycling; phosphorus; pyrolysis; crop growth.
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    Assessing nutritional water productivity of selected African leafy vegetables using the agricultural production systems simulator model.
    (2020) Kunene, Thobeka Gladness.; Modi, Albert Thembinkosi.
    Food and nutrition insecurities are regarded as one of the main challenges in the Sub-Saharan region. While substantial progress has been made to address food and nutrition challenges, this progress has varied across the region and over time in response to climate change hazards. Agriculture has been used as the main driver to improve food and nutrition security; however, productivity in these marginalised communities remains low. African leafy vegetables (ALVs) provide an unprecedented opportunity to ensure food security, lessen poverty and diversify farming systems while improving human health and increasing income. Crop modelling can generate information about the crop's growth, development, water, and nutritional needs. The primary objectives of this study were (i) to assess the growth and productivity of selected ALVs (amaranth (Amaranth spp), cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) and wild mustard (Sinapis arvensis)) under different management practices, and (ii) assess water productivity (WP) and nutritional water productivity (NWP) of the selected ALVs. Desktopbased research was conducted to achieve the mentioned objectives. Here, information on the studied crops' agronomy secondary data was gathered through a careful literature search. This secondary information was then used to model growth and productivity and quantify nutritional water productivity at different management practices. The Agricultural Production Systems Simulator (APSIM) was used to simulate growth and productivities under different management scenarios of planting date, plant density, fertiliser application and irrigation. We used the soil and climatic data from the University of KwaZulu-Natal's research farm (Ukulinga Research Farm) situated in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa (29°37′S; 30°16′E; 775 m a.s.l.), to calibrate the model. All data analysis was done using descriptive statistical analysis (R software). All mean values were subjected to a t-test set at p<0.05 significance. The results showed that depending on crop species. Different management practices can be relevant to achieve optimum growth and productivity for various purposes. The investigated ALVs were found to have high nutrient content. Compared to one another, amaranth was more nutrient-dense and wild mustard the least dense crop. On the other hand, NWP was comparatively high on both amaranth and cowpea.
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    Vertical hydroponic production of leafy vegetables with human-excreta-derived-materials (HEDMs) from decentralised sanitation technologies.
    (2020) Sihlongonyane, Sisekelo Simo.; Magwaza, Lembe Samukelo.; Odindo, Alfred Oduor.; Buckley, Christopher Andrew.; Yeh, Daniel H.
    Hydroponic production of leafy vegetables with human-excreta-derived-materials (HEDMs) extracted by decentralised sanitation technologies is projected to reduce food shortages while improving sanitation services in peri-urban communities, particularly in informal settlements. This study investigated the potential use of HEDMs generated by decentralised sanitation technologies for hydroponic production of leafy crops. HEDMs generated by decentralised sanitation technologies, namely: Anaerobic Baffled Reactor (ABR) and Nutrients, Water and Energy Generator (NEWgenerator) were used as treatments. A vertical hydroponic system called ZipGrow Farm Wall was assembled to conduct horticultural trials at Newlands Mashu Research site in Durban, South Africa. The vertical hydroponic system had eight vertical growing towers. Four vertical growing towers were fertigated with commercial hydroponic fertiliser mix (CHFM) as a control and the other four fertigated with HEDM as a treatment. A literature review was undertaken on open field and hydroponic production of crops with HEDMs. Previous and current studies indicated that nutrients derived from human-excreta have the potential to support the growth of plants even though low yields are obtained in some instance, and faecal pathogen contamination in crops occurs due to fertigation with infected nutrients. Only drip irrigation systems were reported to limit the transfer of faecal pathogens from nutrient source to plants. The first research study investigated the potential use of anaerobic baffled reactor (ABR) effluent on growth and yield of Swiss chard in a vertical hydroponic system. The results revealed that Swiss chard grown with CHFM performed better than those in ABR effluent and gave a significantly (p<0.05) higher plant height and fresh yield. Fresh leaf mass of Swiss chard was reduced in ABR effluent by 78 % when compared to CHFM. Sodium toxicity, ammonium toxicity, aphids and flea beetles reduced the growth and yield of Swiss chard grown with ABR effluent. Amaranthus in planted wetlands of ABR system hosted aphids and flea beetles who moved to defoliate matured Swiss chard leaves grown with ABR effluent as they thought it is a similar crop. In contrast, Swiss chard fertigated with CHFM suffered minimum effects of pest outbreak due to absence of faecal smell and nutrient stress. The second research study investigated the potential of diluted NEWgenerator permeate + hydroponic fertiliser (DNP + HF) on growth, and yield of hydroponically grown non-heading Chinese cabbage. The results revealed there was no significant difference in all determined growth parameters except for fresh yield (p>0.05) between plants fertigated by CHFM and DNP + HF. Fresh leaf mass of non-heading Chinese cabbage leaves was reduced in DNP + HF by 26 % when compared to CHFM. Significant yield decline in non-heading Chinese cabbage grown with DNP + HF was a result of nutrient conditions affecting the uptake and accumulation of nutrients in leaf tissues. Plant analysis revealed that uptake of macronutrients and micronutrient significantly varied in leaf tissues of non-heading Chinese cabbage between fertigation with CHFM and DNP + HF. Leaf tissues of non-heading Chinese cabbage showed higher levels of N, P, Mg, Mn, Na, Cu, Fe and Al while lower levels of K, Ca and Zn were observed when compared to plants grown with CHFM treatment. The deficiency and toxicity of nutrients in leaf tissues led to interference in photosystem activity of non-heading Chinese cabbage grown with DNP + HF which resulted on decline in final yield. On a positive note, harvested leaves were without faecal coliforms. These findings show that fertigation with ABR effluent and DNP + HF has the potential to support the growth of leafy vegetables in a hydroponic system. However, there is a need for further research to look at other aspects with negatively affected the final yield of crops.
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    Response of potato genotypes to production sites and water deficit imposed at different growth stages.
    (2020) Mthembu, Sizwe Goodman.; Odindo, Alfred Oduor.; Magwaza, Lembe Samukelo.; Mditshwa, Asanda.
    In South Africa, potato is an important food security crop widely cultivated by smallholder farmers due to its extensive adaptation characteristics. However, drought adaptive responses of potato genotypes vary under different environmental conditions. Potato is generally categorized as the most sensitive crop to water deficit than other root and tuber crops. However, there is insufficient evidence regarding adaptive responses of potato genotypes to water deficit imposed at different growth stages. Therefore, this study sought to identify growth stage-specific drought adaptation of selected potato genotypes for recommendation and cultivation in targeted production sites in South Africa. The specific objectives of this study were: (1) to determine morpho-physiological traits related to water use efficiency among selected potato genotypes subjected to water deficit at the different growth stages; (2) to determine the effect of water deficit imposed at different growth stages on yield performance and tuber quality of selected potato genotypes; and (3) to investigate the effect of different production sites/regions on growth, physiological and yield responses of potato genotypes. For objective 1, a glasshouse study was conducted using a 8×4×2 factorial experiment involving the following factors: potato genotypes - 8 levels (Bikini, Challenger, Electra, Mondial, Panamera, Sababa, Sifra, and Tyson); growth stages - 4 level (vegetative stage, tuber initiation, tuber bulking and maturity) and watering regimes - 2 levels (Well-watered [Ww] and Water deficit [Wd] conditions). The treatments were replicated three times to give a total of 192 experimental units. Water deficit was imposed by withholding irrigation at the beginning to the end of each growth stage. A highly significant (p < 0.001) interaction among genotypes, water condition and growth stages was observed for morphological traits and physiological responses including number of leaves and total above-ground biomass, and photosynthetic rate (A), instantaneous water use efficiency (IWUE), transpiration rate (Tr), chlorophyll content index (CCI), and relative water content (RWC). Potato genotypes Bikini, Challenger and Mondial with growth-stage specific drought adaptation were identified and recommended for water-limited environments. The second study (objective 2) determined the effect of water deficit imposed at different growth stages on yield performance and tuber quality of selected potato genotypes. The study was conducted as 8×4×2 factorial experiment (See objective 1) replicated three times and data was collected on tuber yield (TY), number of tubers (NT), tuber size distribution (TSD) and dry matter content (DMC). Results revealed a highly significant (p < 0.001) genotype x water condition x growth stages interaction for tuber yield and dry matter content. Imposing water deficit at the tuber initiation and tuber bulking stages resulted in significantly lower yields, whereas drought stress at maturity stage resulted in high number of small tubers. ‘Bikini’, ‘Challenger’, ‘Mondial’ and ‘Tyson’ were identified as tolerance genotypes to water deficit at vegetative stage, tuber initiation and maturity stage due to high yield potential and DMC. This finding suggests that these genotypes could be suitable for processing industry (chipping) and baking. For objective 3, eight potato genotypes were grown across two environments namely: Ukulinga research farm (URF) in Pietermaritzburg which characterised with semi-arid environment and eChibini area (CB) in Bamshela with seasonal rainfall and high humidity. The experiments were laid out using a randomised complete block design (RCBD) replicated three times. Data was collected on morphological and physiological traits. Significant (p < 0.05) genotype x environment interaction effect was observed for studied traits at URF and CB. Potato genotypes planted at CB had a significant (p < 0.05) lower gs and Tr resulting to low A, than at URF. The CCI at CB compared to URF was significant (p < 0.05) higher at the beginning and gradually decreased towards maturity while at URF was constant. Moderately to poorly drained soils at eChibini resulted in low yields and low dry matter content. Various genotypes with better yield and high quality were obtained at URF. This suggested that genotypes were suitable for production in cool temperate regions with humid climate areas like URF. The study showed that different production regions can significantly affect the potato yield performance, suggesting URF sites as suitable environment. Overall, the study identified potato genotypes with growth stage-specific drought tolerance and environment specific adaptation for high yield and good quality.
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    Water use and nutritional water productivity of taro (colocasia esculenta L. Schott ) Landraces.
    (2020) Shelembe, Sihle Cyril.; Modi, Albert Thembinkosi.
    Taro (Colocasia esculenta) is a vital drought tolerant crop with the ability to produce corms of high nutritional quality, but it still occupies low levels of utilisation and research in South Africa. Information on crop agronomy, management practices and water use has been limited and not available to farmers. The study aimed at determining the response of taro landraces to water availability under controlled environment conditions in a growth chamber. Further, the crop response to dryland conditions during the 2018 and 2019 growing seasons was observed. Under field conditions, the experimental factors were planting date and fertiliser level. The eddo type taro landraces were all collected from rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal. For controlled environment facility (CEF), the experimental design was arranged as a randomized complete block design (RCBD) and replicated three times, with three factors: temperature(~33/18°/C day/night; 60–80% RH), water regimes (30% and 100% of crop water requirement (ETa) and taro landrace. For field trials, a factorial design in randomized complete block design (RCBD) with three replications was conducted. Three experimental factors were examined namely; planting dates (October, November and December), three organic fertilisers (0, 160 and 320 N kg per hectare) and two taro landraces MG and PI. The CEF results revealed that better relative growth and development were associated with better corm starch content and this occurred more at 100% compared with 30% ETa. However, water use efficiency (WUE) and nutritional water productivity were found to be higher in response to 30% ETa compared with 100% ETa. The results of the field trial indicated that planting date and fertilisation have a significant effect on crop establishment, growth parameters, actual yield and yield parameters, mineral, starch, and moisture content. The yield parameters were decreased by delaying planting but increased by organic fertiliser. The corm mineral content increased by organic fertiliser application, but the starch content was decreased. It is concluded that taro growth and corm size will increase in response to water and nutrient availability, but the nutritional value of the corm may be compromised.
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    Timing of weed control and harvest date effects on potato crop field performance and mineral content.
    (2020) Mdima, Thobile Siphosethu.; Modi, Albert Thembinkosi.
    Potato (Solanum tuberosum) is an important vegetable crop that is high on dietary minerals and vitamins that are needed by the human body but can be a weak competitor to weeds. The aim of the study was to determine the effect of weeds and harvest period on plant growth, yield and mineral content of tubers. The experiment was conducted at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Ukulinga farm. The experiment had three weeding treatments namely control weed free, weed free till flowering stage then stop and no weeding. And two harvest periods which were early (90 days after planting) and late (120 days after planting). The crop was monitored from emergence using phenological (plant height and leaf number) and physiological (Leaf area index, Chlorophyll content index, photosynthetically active radiation, stomatal conductance) parameters during the growing stage prior to flowering. At harvest, the number of tubers, size of tubers and plant biomass were recorded to determine the yield. After yield determination the potato samples were taken to the laboratory for mineral content analysis. The results showed that there was a significant difference (p<0.05) in the weeding treatments with respect to the phenological parameters. The control weed free treatment had the highest plant growth and yield while the no weeding treatment had the lowest plant growth and yield. It was also observed that the early harvested tubers were smaller in size while the tubers harvested late were larger in size. This is because the tubers harvested late were given enough time to grow and mature. Harvesting early under the no weeding treatment resulted in significantly lower yields due to the decrease in tuber mass. There were significant effects of weed control and harvest timings with respect to mineral content in tubers. Potassium was found to be the dominant mineral element followed by phosphorus. These elements were found in levels that were up to 100 times higher than those of calcium, magnesium and sodium in potato tubers. It is concluded that delaying weed control reduces crop performance, yield and mineral content. However, delaying harvest time may provide an opportunity for the crop to accumulate more weight and mineral content in the tubers. Keywords: Chlorophyll content index, Tubers, Biomass, Leaf area index, Photosynthetically active radiation, mineral content, yield.
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    Artificial soil profile for vegetable production: a potential case of urban agriculture.
    (2020) Phungula, Nosipho Precious.; Modi, Albert Thembinkosi.
    A significantly large population of South Africa migrates from rural to urban areas, leaving opportunities for small-scale subsistence agriculture for a perceived better livelihood. Food insecurity and poverty seem to increase in the peri-urban areas because of poor opportunities for food production and the inescapable need for money to survive. The advantages of urban farming have been published in the literature for many years, but there are still opportunities to introduce innovative methods that are confirmed by scientific findings. This study aimed to determine the efficiency of portable bags and artificial soil profiles on year-round production of common vegetables in South Africa, namely, Swiss chard, lettuce, onion, beetroot, and green pepper. Artificial soil profiles were created in the bags using commonly found urban homestead common organic garden refuse (grass and wood) garden soil and collected rock, respectively. One vegetable, lettuce was used to represent fertilizer requirements and three recommendations (0, 50, and 100%) were applied. Measured crop growth parameters included plant height, leaf number, stomatal conductance, chlorophyll content index, leaf area index, and photosynthetically active radiation. Soil moisture content, soil water potential, and soil temperature were also determined. Crop biomass yield and mineral content at harvest were also determined. The artificial environment was compared with soil plot environment (sandy loam soil with 110 mm depth) under rainfed conditions, with limited supplemental irrigation during dry periods. Results showed that vegetable production is possible all year round in both artificial and real profile conditions. The vegetable yield was reduced in non-soil artificial profiles, but the fertilizer application supported it all year round. Vegetable nutritional value, in terms of selected minerals, differed significantly between seasons and less between normal and artificial profiles, where even no fertilizer application produced yield all year round. The study concludes that disposable bags have a potential role for vegetable production in urban areas, where land area is limited. Potential food security benefits are linked more to nutrient access than quantity access. There is a need to test the findings of the study a different environmental and socio-economic conditions, to influence government policy. Keywords: artificial soil profile, fertilizer, season, temperature, vegetable nutrient content.
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    Water use efficiency of three common subsistence legume crops in relation to soil type under controlled environment conditions.
    Jila, Noxolo Nokukhanya.; Modi, Albert Thembinkosi.
    Water scarcity in agriculture is the primary reason for poor crop yield and quality. The study's primary aim was to determine the effect of water stress on the growth and development of grain legumes in relation to the type of soil used for their production. A pot trial was used to grow three legume varieties (Gadra bean, Lima bean, and Peas) in five different soil types. The growing conditions were controlled for similarity, except for water availability. Adequate (75%FC), moderate (50%FC), and poor (30%FC) levels of water availability were imposed. Field capacity was measure by weight by filling a bare soil area with excess water inducing drainage, cover the wet soil with a plastic cover, wait about 2-3 days, collect a soil sample, weigh moist soil, dry in an oven at 105°C till to constant; weigh (after about 24 hours) and weigh the dry soil then moisture at field capacity was calculated. Crop response to water availability was determined by plant growth indices of time to flowering and plant size during growth. Crop performance was initially monitored in terms of crop establishment capacity as indicated by emergence. Chlorophyll content index and stomatal conductance were used to determine plants' general physiological response during the vegetative phase of growth. Biomass accumulation and grain yield were determined at harvest by separating them into the aboveground total plant mass, root mass, and grain mass, respectively. Also, the availability of calcium (Ca), potassium (K), phosphorus (P), sodium (Na), Manganese (Mn), and magnesium (Mg) was determined in plant tissue after harvest. The results showed that plant height, number of leaves, number of seeds, dry grain weight, and plant dry weight of the three legumes responded significantly to water stress conditions. Chlorophyll content index and stomatal conductance showed significant differences in water availability. Calcium, P, and Mn increased with increased field capacity, but Mg and K decreased. Regardless of soil type and variety, crop performance declined with a decrease in water availability. Water stress was shown to have a rapid effect on legume performance, as indicated by highly significant differences between water availability levels during plant growth. Soil type has substantial interaction with water availability, mainly due to structural and chemical characteristics influencing water availability. Root mass is the most sensitive legume plant part of water stress than vegetative parts and grain responses to water stress's adverse effects.
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    The effect of ethylmethanesulfonate (EMS) on morphological characteristics and seed quality development of Vernonia (Centrapalus pauciflorus var.ethiopica Willd.)
    (2015) Boyanee, Andre Bwandola.; Odindo, Alfred Oduor.
    Vernonia (Centrapalus pauciflorus Willd.) belongs to the Asteraceae family (Compositae). The crop can produce epoxidized vernolic acid oil that can be used by industries to produce products such as paints.Crop production is significantly hampered by non-uniform seed maturity, lodging due to tall plant height, seed shattering and lack of appropriate technologies. There is need for research to address these challenges and improve productivity. Firstly, this study compared two selected vernonia mutant lines (Vge-1 and Vge-4) and untreated controls with respect to morphological traits and seed quality development. A field experiment was conducted as a factorial design with 2 lines (Vge-1 and Vge-4) and 2 treatments (ethylmehanesulphonate treated and untreated seeds) at the University of KwaZulu- Natal Research farm at Ukulinga in Pietermaritzburg. The experiment was laid out in a Randomized Complete Block design (RCBD) with four replications, thus giving 16 experimental units (plots measuring 3mx6m). Data was collected on plants height, leaf number of secondary heads, mass of heads per plant and yield. Highly significant differences (P<0.001) were observed with respect to leaf number and seed mass.Vge-1 mutants plant produced more leaves (48 leaves per plant) compared with untreated controls (40 leaves), Vge-4 treated seeds had higher mass of heads per plant (2.46g) compared untreated controls Vge-4 with (0.75g). Vge-4 had seed yields of 3.5 ton/ha compared with untreated controls (3ton/ha). The effect of EMS application on growth parameters in vernonia lines resulted in an increase in leaf number, mass of seed per heads and seed yield of Vge-4; this line could be important than Vge-1 for potential use of vernonia as a new industrial crop. Secondly, the study determined the pattern of seed quality development of Vge-1 and Vge-4 compared to untreated controls. Vernonia flowers were tagged at flowering stage and sampled at weekly intervals from seed development up to maturity. Twenty seeds from each line (both treated and untreated controls) at each developmental stage were used to determine solute leakage using conductivity meter (CM100). Percentage germination was determined using a growth chamber set at a constant temperature of 25oC. Samples of twenty seeds were used for determination of seed moisture content using Kett’s PM650 seed soil moisture meter (Kett instruments, USA). Viability tests were done using 2, 3, 4-triphenyl tetrazolium chloride (TZ) solution. Seed viability was evaluated by assessing the proportion of stained embryo according to the ISTA Rules and Methods for Seed Testing. Five seeds of each line (both treated and untreated controls) were scanned using an electron microscope to observe morphological changes during embryo development. The results showed that germination (%) was generally iv low but differed significantly (P<0.01) between the lines; Vge-1 untreated seeds had the highest germination percentage (60%) compared with Vge-1 treated with (58%). The low germination percentage in vernonia could probably be attributed to seed dormancy. Thirdly, the study investigated the effect of gibberellic acid (GA) and potassium nitrate on seed dormancy in vernonia lines. A total of 100 seeds per treatment (treated seeds of Vge-1 and Vge4 and untreated controls) were subjected to three different temperatures regimes (25/25°C; 25/17°C or 30/17°C) and 0.7mM gibberellic acid or 1mM KN03. Seeds germination was assessed on daily basis by recording seeds with a radicle protrusion of at least 2mm. Highly significant differences and interactions (P<0.001) were observed between temperatures and dormancy breaking chemicals with respect to percentage germination, mean germination time (MGT) and germination index (GI).The GI increased with GA3concentration application. The mean germination time (MGT) also improves for all treatments. Fourthly, the effect of EMS on seedling growth was investigated. Harvested seeds of the two lines Vge-1 and Vge-4 were soaked in 0.372%, 0.744% and 1.1% EMS solutions for 2 hours and rinsed in water for 30 minute. The experiment was laid out as 2x4x4x3 treatment structure using a completely randomized design with the following factors: Vernonia lines with 2levels (Vge-1 and Vge-4); EMS concentration 4 levels (0.372%, 0.744%, 1.1 % and control); duration time 4level (0.5, 1, 1.5 and 2 hour) and temperature 3 levels (30oC, 32.5oC and 35oC) replicated 3 times, giving a total of 96 treatments combinations and 288 experimental units. The treated seeds were sown in seedling trays filled with sterilized soil. The following data were collected; seedling emergence, seedling length, germination percentage and the presence of chlorophyll mutants. Highly significant differences (P<0.001) were observed between EMS treatments with respect to seedling vigor, germination percentage and seedling height. The seedling length decreased with increased EMS concentration. EMS concentration increased emergence percentage and germination index. Increasing EMS concentrations, temperature, exposure time and duration negatively affected on all the traits measured in the study. EMS had the effect of causing mutations as evidenced by the various chlorophyll mutants identified in the study. The major findings of this study suggest that EMS as mutagen was effective in inducing genetic variability in vernonia. This suggests that EMS can be used for creating new vernonia lines.
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    Position of amaranthus seed on the plant in relation to seed quality and productivity under varying water regimes.
    (2018) Hlatshwayo, Nkosinathi.; Modi, Albert Thembinkosi.
    Amaranth is one of the important vegetables that are highly nutritious in protein, iron, vitamins A, C, and K. Its nutritional value can be used to reduce food insecurity, poverty and malnutrition problems in South Africa because it occurs naturally and it has the ability to tolerate drought and produce reasonable yield in infertile soils. Amaranth occurs in different species and landraces. In commercial agriculture, this is a serious weed plant. However, it is also utilised as a leafy vegetable crop in many developing countries. In South Africa, it is considered as an underutilized traditional crop with limited cultivation compared to other vegetable crops. The aim of the study was to determine seed quality, growth, and development of two amaranth landraces collected from three agriculture locations in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, where the plant is utilised for food security when it is available during the cropping season. Three positions on the plant were defined as equal thirdiles of the seed filled portion of the plant referred to as top, middle and bottom. Seed quality of the harvested original material was determined in terms of physical attributes (seed weight) and germination parameters, namely vigour, rate, and total. Then the original seeds were planted to produce plants under controlled environment conditions differing in water regimes from the seedling establishment to harvest maturity. The water regimes were 100% field capacity (FC), 50% FC and 30% FC to create adequate and stressed conditions. First-generation plant growth and development was determined in terms of morphology (plant height, leaf number, leaf area and aboveground biomass). This response was correlated with physiological parameter namely stomatal conductance and chlorophyll content index. Seed quality results showed that seed weight parameters namely, seed mass per landrace, seed mass per part, and thousand seed mass were significantly affected (p<0.05) by site, landrace, and position on the plant. Seed water content was significantly affected by landrace and water activity was significantly affected by sites only. Germination was significantly affected (p<0.05) by landrace, position, and site. Controlled tunnel results showed that plant height and leaf area were significantly (p<0.05) affected by site, landrace water regimes and the interaction of site, water regime, position, and landraces. However, in leaf number, site, landrace, position and water regimes were significantly (p<0.05) affected but the interaction of site, water regime, position, and landrace were not significantly (p˃0.05) affected. Both physiological parameters (chlorophyll content index and stomatal conductance) were not significantly (p˃0.05) affected by site, landrace, 5 position and their interaction, However, they were significantly (p<0.05) affected by water regimes. Leaf yield was significantly (p<0.05) affected by water regimes and the interaction of site and water regimes only. For both parent and first generations, seed quality differed with the position on the plant, where middle and bottom seed performed better than top located seed. Water stress reduced seed quality. It is concluded that seed quality of amaranthus is associated with a position on the plant, regardless of the location of harvested material. Water stress reduces plant growth and seed yield. Keywords: Amaranthus, position on the plant; seed quality, crop performance
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    Evaluation of Elite Heat and Drought Tolerant Wheat (Triticum aestivum) Genotypes Based on Drought Tolerance and Water-Use Efficiency Parameters.
    (2019) Tshikunde, Nkhathutsheleni Maureen.; Shimelis, Hussein Ali.; Odindo, Alfred Oduor.
    Drought stress is one of the most important limiting factors to sustainable and profitable wheat production in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), including South Africa. Use of drought adapted genetic resources is regarded to be the most economic and environmentally friendly approach to mitigating the adverse effects of heat and drought stress. Therefore, there is need to select desirable wheat genotypes with enhanced water-use efficiency and drought tolerance parameters to boost wheat production in water-limited environments. Genotypes with enhanced drought-tolerance and water-use efficiency can be developed targeting yield-related agronomic and physiological traits which are well-correlated with grain yield potential. Therefore, the objectives of this study were: 1) to determine drought tolerance of dryland wheat genotypes based on leaf gas exchange and water-use efficiency in order to identify promising genotypes for drought tolerance breeding and 2) to examine associations between morphological and physiological traits of selected wheat genotypes under drought stress in order to identify unique traits that may be used as direct or indirect selection criteria for improving water-use efficiency and drought tolerance in wheat. In the first study, leaf gas exchange and water use efficiency of ten genetically diverse wheat genotypes were tested under water-stressed and non-stressed conditions. Results showed high significant differences (P < 0.001) in water condition x genotypes interaction with regards to net photosynthetic rate (A), the ratio of net CO2 assimilation rate and intercellular CO2 concentration (A/Ci), the ratio of intercellular and atmospheric CO2 (Ci/Ca), intrinsic water-use efficiency (WUEi), instantaneous water-use efficiency (WUEinst) and water-use efficiency (WUE). This suggests that genotypic variability of wheat exists for these traits. Heat and drought tolerant wheat genotypes such as G339 and G334 were identified and selected for breeding for enhanced drought tolerance possessing suitable physiological traits such as high A, transpiration rate (T), stomatal conductance (gs), A/Ci, WUEi and WUEinst under drought stress condition. In the second study, response of wheat genotypes were assessed based on morpho-physiological traits and water use efficiency under water-stressed and non-stressed conditions. Significant differences (P< 0.05) were observed among the tested wheat genotypes with regards to the number of productive tillers (NT), number of leaves per plant (NL), total dry mass (DM), leaf area index (LA), leaf area ratio (LAR), A, gs, T, WUEinst, WUEi, WUE. Pearson’s correlation analysis indicated that NL, NT, plant height (PH), DM, grain yield (GY), A were positively and significantly correlated with WUEinst. Instantaneous water use-efficiency positively correlated with NL (r = 0.76; P < 0.001), NT (r = 0.67; P = 0.03), PH (r = 0.72; P = 0.01), DM (r = 0. 81; P < 0.001) and GY (r = 0.70; P = 0.02) under water stress (WS) condition. Wheat genotypes namely: G339, G343 and G344 which exhibited high NT and DM under WS condition were selected with enhanced water-use efficiency. Overall, the present study evaluated and selected drought tolerance wheat genotypes that can be used to improve wheat grain yield under water stress conditions. Furthermore, morphological traits (NT and DM) and physiological traits (A, T, gs, A/Ci and WUE) well-associated with water-use efficiency were detected. These traits can be used as direct and indirect selection criteria in dry land wheat improvement programmes.
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    Assessing the effect of crop intensification in improving aricultural productivity in smallholder farmers' fields : a case study of northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
    (2017) Mthembu, Hloniphile.; Odindo, Alfred Oduor.
    Crop intensification is adopted by different countries to address their challenges, which may include low standards of food and nutrition security, limited arable land and land degradation. To assess the effect of crop intensification in improving agricultural productivity in smallholder farmers in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, a qualitative study and in-field experiment were conducted. In a qualitative study the Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) tools namely, focus group discussions, transect walks and key informant interviews was used. A random purposive sample of 249 smallholder farmers from 5 local municipalities of uMkhanyakude district was undertaken. The following information was explored: different farming systems; landscape; availability of irrigation systems or water sources; classification of farming soil types; perception of soil fertility; planting and rainfall patterns. Smallholder farmers’ demographics, socio-economic status, typical farming systems, differences between backyard gardens and crop fields, water sources, knowledge and skills on farming systems and practices, understanding and benefits of mixed farming, crop mixing and intercropping, soil fertility and soil acidity management were also explored. The findings of the study revealed that the age of the smallholder farmers ranged between 40-65 years. About 90% of the smallholder farmers who participated in this study were females. 45% of smallholder farmers’ households are headed by females. A typical household of the smallholder farmers, is characterised by more than two dwelling places in one household compound with mixed farming. Water is a serious problem in uMkhanyakude district. 70% of the farmers primarily used indigenous knowledge and acquired their skills on farming systems and practises from generation to generation indigenous knowledge system. In-field experiment was conducted. It was laid out in a randomized complete block design (RCBD) with three replicates having a net plot size of 3.6m x 5m. The following treatments were evaluated: Maize intercropped with beans (T1), Maize intercropped with pumpkins (T2), Maize intercropped with beans and pumpkins (T3), Maize sole crop control (T4), Beans sole crop control (T5), Pumpkins sole crop control (T6) and Bean intercropped with pumpkins (T7). Productivity was measured using the following indices: Land Equivalent Ratio (LER), Area Time Equivalent Ratio (ATER), Competition Ratio (CR), Relative Crowding Coefficient (K) and Aggressivity (A), Actual Yield Lost (AYL), Intercropping Advantage (IA) and Monetary Advantage Index (MAI). The study revealed that the intercropping system with three crop species in all three location showed greater values of LER (1.8, 1.9, and 1.7) and ATER (1.8, 1.9, 1.7). The crowding coefficient (K) was the highest in Mtubatuba and Hluhluwe treatment 3 (maize/bean/pumpkin) (80.72 and 61.78) respectively. Intercrops showed positive Agressivity, and greater competition ratio and actual yield loss when compared with the main crops. Intercropping advantage (IA) and monetary advantage (MAI) in treatment 3 (maize/bean/pumpkin in all locations showed greater values (58327, 12850, 5532) and (54573, 59487, 19606) respectively. The productivity of the intercropping system where there are more than two crops is considered greater in terms of land equivalent ratio (LER), area time equivalent ratio, (ATER).
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    Agronomic performance of sugarcane varieties derived from tissue culture (NovaCane®) and conventional seedcane under rainfed conditions.
    (2017) Shezi, Sbonelo Nicholus.; Ramburan, Sanesh.; Modi, Albert Thembinkosi.
    The use of tissue culture (TC) plants have been promising for the production of true-to-type, disease free planting material. However, TC plants have been shown to possess an altered phenotype (high tillering and thinner stalks) compared with conventionally propagated sugarcane from setts (hereafter referred to as conventional or Con). Limited information is available for the response of different varieties to the TC process. Additionally, the effects of any altered phenotype in subsequent stages has not been evaluated. Three field experiments were conducted under rainfed conditions at South African Sugarcane Research Institute (SASRI) Mount Edgecombe experiment station to gain insights into these factors. The aim of experiment 1 was to investigate growth and yield differences between the TC and the Con plants for different varieties. Here, a field trial was established as a randomised block design with four replications of four varieties (N12, N31, N41, and N48) planted using three methods: 1) TC derived plants (spaced at either 30 (TC30) or 50 (TC50) cm apart; 2) conventional hot water treated seedcane setts (Con); and 3) single-budded sett derived plants (speedlings) planted 50 cm apart (SP50). The aim of experiment 2 was to investigate the effects of different in vitro procedures on several phenotypic and agronomic characteristics of TC plants of sugarcane. A field trial was established as a randomised block design with four replications consisted of two varieties (N41 and N48) derived through three variations of the in vitro NovaCane® procedure, namely i) the standard procedure, ii) plantlets exposed to CoCl2 (NovaCane® (CoCl2)) and iii) plantlets that underwent a secondary meristem excision process (NovaCane® (secondary)) from in vitro material. The plantlets from all three treatments were planted using two (30 and 50 cm) plant spacings. The aim of experiment 3 was to compare the performance of seedcane obtained from TC (stage 1) and Con when planted at different planting rates. The seedcane for experiment 3 was derived from the corresponding treatments in experiment 1, which were: 1) stalks derived from TC50 and planted at a lower planting rate (TC50 low); 2) stalks derived from TC50 and planted at a higher planting rate (TC50 high); 3) stalks derived from TC30 and planted at a lower planting rate (TC30 low); 4) stalks derived from TC30 and planted at a higher planting rate (TC30 high); and 5) stalks derived from Con and planted at a normal planting rate. Yield and yield component measurements for these experiments were taken at harvest and data were analysed by ANOVA. For experiment 1, there were no significant differences in cane yield, stalk height and stalk mass between propagation methods for all varieties in both crops harvested. For varieties N12 and N31, both TC treatments produced significantly thinner stalks and higher stalk population compared with the Con treatment when averaged across crops. Variety N48 was insensitive to the TC process, indicating that the phenotype of this variety was maintained during the TC process. The TC30 and TC50 treatments did not differ significantly for any parameter in both crops for all varieties, showing that plant spacing did not affect growth. The SP50 treatment produced significantly thicker stalks compared with the TC50 for varieties N12, N31 and N41 in the plant crop. For experiment 2, the plants produced through the NovaCane® (CoCl2) procedure resembled those produced through NovaCane® for all phenotypic and agronomic characteristics in the plant and first ratoon crops. The plants produced through the NovaCane® and the NovaCane® (secondary) procedures differ significantly for stalk population only, with the NovaCane® treatment having significantly lower stalk population compared with the NovaCane® (secondary) treatment for variety N41. Planting at closer (30 cm) or wider (50 cm) spacings did not have an effect on plant growth and to the response of varieties to the in vitro treatments. For experiment 3, crop derived from TC had a significantly higher mean cane yield and TERC compared with the crop derived from the Con. The crop derived from TC had a significantly higher mean stalk population compared with the crop derived from Con. This was observed for varieties N12 and N41 in particular. The crop derived from TC produced significantly thinner and taller stalks compared with the crop derived from Con. The effects of planting rates and TC source (TC30 vs TC50) were not significant for any parameter. Varieties responded differently to the TC process (N48 did not show phenotypic variations). As a result, screening of varieties for phenotypic to TC is recommended to make grower aware of expected changes in the phenotype. This should mitigate the risks of possible poor adoption of varieties based on thin stalks. It is recommended that TC plants be propagated using wider (50 cm) plant spacings, as this is more economical. The lack of differences between in vitro procedures suggests that propagation of new genotypes through standard NovaCane® procedures for commercial release should continue. The seedcane derived from the TC at stage 1 can be used as planting materials for commercial production without any negative effects on productivity in subsequent propagation stages. This is despite persistence of the reduce stalk diameter, higher stalk population phenotype. Lack of differences between the higher and the lower planting rates of TC-derived crops suggests that lower planting rates should be used for economic reasons.
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    Seed quality and yield of selected traditional and commercial crops : vegetable water use and nutritional productivity perspectives.
    (2017) Shelembe, Pretty Jabulisile.; Modi, Albert Thembinkosi.
    Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) faces challenges of achieving nutrient and food security under water limitations due to climate change and variability. Under these conditions, it is important to adopt cropping systems that are likely to improve crop production. The aim of the study was to assess the feasibility of a legume - leafy vegetable intercrop system with a view to determine the yield and nutritional benefits. This was achieved through a series of studies which included conducting critical literature review, quantifying water use and nutritional water productivity efficiency of intercropping. Field trials were conducted at an Umbumbulu homestead and Fountain Hill Estate, in KwaZulu-Natal, during the 2016/2017 summer season, under rain-fed conditions. Intercrop combinations considered were sole cowpea, amaranth, garden pea and swiss chard, as well as intercrops of cowpea-amaranth, cowpea-garden pea and cowpea-swiss chard. Seed quality of selected crops were determined prior to planting to establish field planting value of seed lots. Data collection included plant growth (leaf number and plant height), and physiology (chlorophyll content index and stomatal conductance). Yield and yield components, water use (WU) and water use efficiency (WUE) were calculated at harvest. Nutritional analysis was determined after harvest. The results showed a significant (P≤0.05) difference between species with respect to seed vigour. There were significant differences (P<0.05) with respect to growth and physiological parameters among crop species. Significant differences (P<0.05) were also observed with respect to yield and yield components among crop species under cropping systems. Traditional species were significantly superior to exotic species with respect to seed germination and vigour. Field trials showed a general relationship between seed quality and crop performance. Although sole cropping showed better field crop performance than intercropping, there was evidence of significant water and nutrient productivity of the intercropping system.