Response of tomato (lycopersicon; esculentum; l.) to mulching and drip irrigation in Ile Oluji, Ondo; state, rain forest zone of south west Nigeria
A pot experiment was set up at Teaching and Research Farm, Federal Polytechnic, Ile Oluji , Ondo State to investigate; the response of tomato to mulching and drip irrigation using Low head-gravity-drip irrigation bucket which delivers water to plants via point source emitters of 2 l/h discharge rate, the emitters were installed on laterals per row of crops during the dry season of November 2017 to March 2018. It involved setting out of drip lines on the pots of dimension (30 x 50) cm within rows and the soil of the experiment site is sandy-clay-loam with moderate water holding capacity. Seedlings were raised in the nursery for three weeks before transplanted into the poly bags with all the necessary agronomic practices observed. Soil temperature was taken using soil thermometers and soil moisture was monitored using tensiometer. The experiment involves a 3 x 3 factorial arrangement using Completely Randomized Design (CRD) with three replications. The research work involved the use of Gmelina and Neem leaves as mulching materials combined with three drip irrigation regimes involving water application at 3,5 and 7 days intervals. Data were collected on daily temperature of plant environment, irrigation amount and intervals, and agronomic parameters of root and shoot biomas, leaf area and fruit yield characters. Data were analyzed using ANOVA at 5% Least Significant Difference (LSD) using Genstat software. The actual irrigation requirement of tomato was determined as 1.38 liters per day. Mulching and irrigation improves the growth and fruit yield characters of tomato. Mulching reduces soil temperature and considerately enhanced soil moisture conservation at 10 cm depth compared with un-mulched treatment. The total number of fruits harvested and fruits length increased with decrease in the intervals (days) of irrigation. Tomato growth and yield characters were enhanced by 3 and 5 days irrigation intervals while the 7 day irrigation had highest efficiency of water use for fruit production.