Effects of Compost Manure on Soil Microbial Respiration, Plant-Available-Water, Peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.) Yield and Pre-Harvest Aflatoxin Contamination
Abstract, Peanut Science, 2019
Peanut production in Zambia is often characterized by low yields and high aflatoxin incidence in harvested kernels. Soil amendments such as farmyard manure have shown potential to increase yields and reduce pre-harvest aflatoxin incidence. The aim of the current study was to evaluate the effects of composted cattle manure on soil properties that relate to yield and pre-harvest aflatoxin contamination of peanut kernels. Research evaluated the effects of composted cattle manure on soil respiration, plant-available water (PAW), peanut yield and pre-harvest aflatoxin contamination in a field experiment conducted in two successive rain-fed cropping seasons starting in December, 2015 and ending in April 2017, in Chongwe District, Zambia. Six (6) levels of compost were incorporated into the top 10 cm of the soil at rates of 0, 4.5, 12.0, 19.5, 27.0, and 34.5 metric tons/ha 1 wk before planting. There was a strong positive relationship between levels of compost and soil microbial respiration (R2=0.84) and PAW (R2=0.86). Secondly, compost manure was associated with increases in pod (R2=0.65) and kernel (R2=0.61) yield. The kernel yield potential of the planted cultivar was achieved at the rate of 12 metric tons per ha. Thirdly, there was a reduction in total aflatoxin levels with increasing levels of compost (R2=0.85). The improvement in peanut yield and the decrease in aflatoxin concentrations in kernels can be attributed to the improvement in soil moisture retention capacity and soil microbial activity arising from manure amendments. This study demonstrated the potential of compost manure to increase soil microbial activity, PAW, peanut yield and minimize aflatoxin contamination at field level.