The response of two Cape gooseberry varieties to organic amendments on degraded soils in the Western Cape, South Africa

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Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University
ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The Cape gooseberry crop has the potential to enhance food security, especially for marginalised communities and small-scale farmers. The plant can be utilised from the roots to the fruit and has medicinal properties such as withanolides, antioxidants and phytochemicals which are used in pharmacology. Despite its potential benefits, there is limited published information on the production of the Cape gooseberry plant, especially under organic soil amendments, in South Africa. The aim of this study was, therefore, to investigate the effects of the organic amendments; vermicompost (VC), and effective microbes in combination with vermicompost (EMV), on selected soil chemical parameters, and the productivity of the Cape gooseberries. The organic amendments were incorporated into the soil before the seedlings were transplanted and grown in a plastic tunnel. The control treatment did not receive any soil amendment. For the VC treatment, vermicompost was applied in each plot at a rate of 3 kg m⁻², whereas for the EMV treatment, 50 g of effective microbes plus 3 kg m⁻² vermicompost was added to the soil. To determine the effect of organic amendments on the productivity of Cape gooseberries, some plant growth parameters (plant height, stem diameter, chlorophyll content, leaf area index, fruit yield, and single fruit weight) were recorded. For standard soil analysis, soil samples were randomly collected from each plot at a depth of 0 - 150 cm. Results show that the use of organic amendments led to plant growth and productivity parameters which compared well with production under chemical fertilisers. Also, the use of organic amendments led to a reduction in soil nutrients, when compared to the initial soil status, which could be one of the reasons why fruit yield was significantly greater under organic amendment than under the control treatment. The study findings show that organic amendments can be a sustainable alternative to chemical fertilisers in Cape gooseberry production. Vermicompost was found to be the best option and is recommended instead of a combination of effective microbes and vermicompost as the addition of effective microbes did not significantly improve the gooseberry fruit yield and quality. In addition, the study has the outcome of three post-harvest diseases in Cape gooseberries. The diseases were caused by Rhizopus stolonifer, Botrytis cinerea, and Penicillium spp.
AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Geen opsomming beskikbaar.
Thesis (MScAgric)--Stellenbosch University, 2023.
Vermicompost, effective microbes, gooseberry, fruit decay