Forage mineral micronutrient density quality in the quartin clover (trifolium Quartinianum,) Under different phosphate and Soil Conditions
A study was conducted at Kabete campus field station between September 2006 and June 2007 to determine the herbage growth and forage micro-minerals density of the Quartin clover (Trifolium quartnianum) which belongs to the African clover genus. It was assessed for its mineral micronutrient concentration using X-Ray florescence spectroscopy. The study involved three experiments; one in the green house (GH), another one in wooden boxes (WB) measuring 1M2 square and the third study in an open field. Soil at the experimental site was randomly sampled and analyzed for micronutrient concentration. The field experiment was laid in Randomized Complete Block Design (RCBD) with four treatments replicated four times. The treatments in the field experiment were:-three terrain levels and Phosphate fertilizer at 0kg/ha P205, 30kg/ha P205, 50kg/ha P205, 60kg/ha P205. The first two experiments were done in the green house in pots and in wooden boxes in April 2006 to September 2006 to assess the herbage growth of Quartin clover, four growth stages were observed. Seed was scarified before planting. Plant sampling and data collection were done bi-weekly during the growing seasons to determine herbage growth. The Plant tissues and Soil samples were subjected to Energy Dispersive X-Ray Florescence Spectroscopy (EDXRF) analysis to determine mineral micronutrient concentration. Growth components measured included, plant height, ground cover, leave number, branching, nodule formation, dry matter and seed yield. The date of 50% flowering was 120 days after sowing which gave an indication of how long the legumes take to flower as this is an important criterion for identifying suitable time for harvesting the forage. Seed emergence was 82-93.0 % 10 days after planting. The good germination percentage was enhanced by seed scarification to remove seed dormancy. SPSS Package version 11.5 was used to analyze the data collected. Data was subjected to ANOVA. Means were separated using the least squire significance difference test at P<0.05. Terrain level and fertilizer treatments showed significant difference (P<0.05) in Percent ground cover in field establishment. Phosphate fertilizer application showed significant effects (P<0.05) on stubble weight, leaf number and nodules per plant at 50kg/ha P205 but there were no differences in plant height due to fertilizer treatments. Stubble weight, dry matter yield and seed yield, were significantly (P<0.05) affected by terrain levels in field experiment and box establishment. Iron was the highest mineral micronutrient concentration in Quartin clover seeds followed by Manganese and Zinc respectively. Application of triple supper phosphate at 50kg/ha P2O5 gave the highest dry matter yield. Herbage growth at the lower slant terrain did better than middle and upper slants (terrain levels) with a positive correlation of r= 0.45 between slants correlated to soils available, Herbage growth was reduced in the upper and middle slants when precipitation was insufficient. Quartin clover responded to fertilizer application since native fertilizer was not adequate to the crop yield permitted by the moisture regime. It therefore recommended that timely planting and/or frequent irrigation is necessary to maximize yield. Quartin clover is a legume fodder that fixes its own Nitrogen and accumulates high levels of protein and micro nutrients. Therefore, farmers interested in restoring soil nutrients in their immediate needy fields could plant it as a cheap method of soil improvement and conservation as well as reducing labour demand in fetching animal feed for zero grazing farming systems. Feeding it to dairy animals would improve the quality of animal products such as meet and milk hence satisfying the hidden hunger directly to the animals and indirectly to human beings. Phosphate application is of crucial importance in establishment, growth and development of Quartin clover since it affects both herbage growth and mineral micronutrient accumulation in Quartin clover. This study therefore recommends that phosphate fertilizer be applied as a basal fertilizer at a rate of 30-50 kg/ha P2O5 during establishment of the Quartin clover.