Published on International Journal of Agriculture & Agribusiness
Publication Date: December, 2019
Department of Horticulture, College of Agriculture and Veterinary Science, Ambo University
Journal Full Text PDF: Beetroot Productivity and Quality as Influenced by Organic and Chemical Fertilizer: A Review.
Beetroot is a root vegetable with high nutritious value. Like other plant species, Beetroot uptake minerals for nutritional requirements from the growing media. Soil needs continuous input of minerals from external sources. Because, nutrients applied on a growing crop are mainly consumed by plants for growth and development. But nutrients Left in the soil leach down and become unavailable to the next crop. Altering the soil nutrients and fertility status by providing balanced and adequate dose of major nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium as per the crop requirement, is one of the easiest way to boost up the productivity of beetroot. But, use of excessive use of chemical fertilizers for increasing production resulted in imbalanced and heavy removal of nutrients from the soil, sick soils and the population of beneficial microorganisms also gets highly effected. Not only imbalanced, the application of balanced inorganic fertilizer also does not sustain the soil because of leaching losses. Now days the demand for ‘organic’ food and health concerns is increasing. As a result, the application of chemical fertilizers has realized the need for application of organic manure to meet the increasing requirements of growing plants. Use of organic fertilizers may increase productivity and quality of Beetroot. But, the application of only organic manures does not meet the nutrient demands of the crop during the initial phase of crop growth because of their slow release. An appropriate combination of chemical fertilizers and organic manures is a possible way-forward to achieve optimum yield and quality of beetroot. This review briefly presents the use of application of chemical fertilizers and organic fertilizer for sustainable productivity and quality of Beetroot.
Keywords: Beetroot, Chemical Fertilizers, Nutrients, Organic, Organic Food, Productivity, Quality.
Beetroot (Beta vulgaris .L) belongs to family Chenopodiaceae. It is indigenous to Asia Minor and Europe. They were first used for food about before the 3rd century although they had been grown for thousands of years for medicinal purposes. It is grown widely in Germany and France and in lesser amounts in other European countries, Africa and South America. It is mainly grown for its swollen roots but the leaves can also be eaten as spinach . In Kenya, it is consumed in salads and the beetroot juice is taken as a health drink. It contains anthocyanins; pigments that give the sweet, earthy-tasting vegetable its deep indigo colour. It also provides antioxidant, vitamins A and C, and is an excellent source of betaine and methionine, that support liver detoxification [2, 3]
Beets root prefer fertile, well-drained, deep, sandy soils rich in organic matter for best growth. Most light soil is well suited for beet production. Heavy soils need to be amended with plenty of compost to allow good root development; however, hairiness and thick root development from tap root in the compost. Prepare soil before planting; incorporate up to 2-4 inches of well composted organic matter. (4)
Beetroot is grown for its high dietary value and good flavour, and it can be processed in many different ways. It owes its organoleptic properties mainly to the large sugar content (7-10%), and the beautiful colour which derives from the presence of betalains, among which there are red-purple betacyanins (mainly betanine) and yellow betaxanthines (mainly vulgaxanthine). The colour effect depends on the ratio of red pigments to yellow pigments . Colour compounds in red beet have cytotoxic properties towards cancerous cells. One of the factors that influences the concentration of those compounds in beetroot juice is type of fertilizers used [6, 7]. Apart from many favourable characteristics, the red beet has also undesirable properties. These are mainly associated with a high tendency to accumulate nitrates, whose concentration in the roots can be as high as 3000 mg per kg of fresh weight. The greatest effect on the accumulation of No3- by red beet plants is exerted by fertilization and weather conditions, and also the type of soil, cultivation period and genetic factors . When grown directly in a manured field or one previously planted to leguminous plant, and also when high rates of mineral fertilization with nitrogen are used, red beet plants show a high tendency for excessive accumulation of nitrates in their edible.
The use of organic fertilizers in vegetables is of great importance, due to its effect on soil physical, chemical and biological traits . Little information was found in the literature consulted relating to the influence of organic fertilization on the beetroot production. Marques et al. (2010) , evaluating rates (0 to 80 t/ ha) of cow manure on production of beetroot, cultivar Early Wonder, obtained greatest yield values at the highest rate.
There is no enough information about research conducted on the production of beet root in African counties and in other countries. Because of this the production and productivity of beet root is low. This problem is caused by absence of sufficient information on the crop and the constraint on the crop still has not been solved. The aim of this review is to present efficacy of chemical and organic fertilizer on productivity and quality of beetroot.
2. Nutrient Requirement of Beetroot
Crops fulfill their nutritional requirements from uptake of minerals mostly through soil . Soils of the crops growing areas have an ability to minimally sustain the plant growth with the nutrients held from previous crop rotation. However, these nutrients are not in sufficient amounts to fulfill the increasing requirements for higher production . Applied nutrients on a growing crop are mainly consumed by crops for growth and development. Left over nutrients in the soil leach down  and become unavailable to the next crop. Due to this, soils in the crops growing areas do not hold sufficient quantity of nutrients to provide the amounts required by the plant for sustainable production and yield. The most abundant nutrient element absorbed from soils and subsequently removed in vegetable crop harvests is nitrogen (N) , The main N forms absorbed by plants are ammonium (NH4 +) and nitrate (NO3 -) N. Some plants show preferences for either NH4+ or NO3- . Explanations to account for these preferences have been presented by Haynes & Goh . Ammonium and NO3- nutrition of plants directly influence the yield and chemical composition of vegetables. The latter, in turn, may affect the health of the consumers . Webster  reported that the maximum yield of beetroot was obtained when 264 kg N/ha of ammonium sulphate applied to a soil. Similarly, according to Wilson  field trial results at Pukekohe which showed that highest yields of beetroot were obtained 300 kg N/ha when a combination of ammonium sulphate and calcium ammonium nitrate was used. But Wallace  recommended that no N fertilizer be applied for beetroot but only 30 kg N/ha for spinach. It is therefore, much more research is needed to better define the N requirements of beetroot. Application of chemical fertilizers is generally discouraged due to the increasing proportion of consumers of „organic‟ food . Therefore, the nutrient management through organic sources of fertilizers to promote soil health and better plant nutrition has achieved a great deal of consideration on a global level. The organic sources improve physico-chemical characteristics and fertility of soil in terms of organic carbon and nitrogen content, permeability, balanced supply of nutrients and plant available water capacity.
3. Chemical fertilizer requirement of beetroot
Beet root production and nutritional quality are affected by the types and forms of fertilizer applied. Mineral fertilizers (NPK) applied at the lowest rates (N – 60, P2O5 – 30, K2O – 70 kg/ha) give relatively high yields of well colored roots with a high betanine content and a low vulgaxanthine content, and a low level of nitrates. However, as the application rates of these fertilizers increased, the marketable yield of beet roots and their betanine content decreased. (21) In Ethiopia, research carried out in jimma university indicated that urea has Significant effect on leaf area and underground dry weight beetroot while it did not revealed significant effect on yield, leaf length, leaf number, plant height, above ground fresh weight, underground fresh weight, above ground dry weight, root length and root diameter (22). Nitrogen and Phosphorus had no significant effect on leaf number, leaf area index, shoots and root dry weight (23). Not only nitrogen ,potassium (K) is the most exported nutrient by the beet roots, equivalent to 93.2 kg /ha of K for yield of 33 t / ha, this nutrient being accumulated more in roots than in shoot(24). The top dressing of K fertilizer (60 kg /ha of K2O) does not affect the production traits. But, it increases the contents of non-reducing and total sugars and K content in shoot and root . Almost all organic fertilizers contain potassium in its composition. However, the concentration is low, usually between 2 and 4 %, and highly variable, mainly depending on the stage of decomposition of the waste and how they were stored. However, K in organic fertilizers is already mineralized and its availability is similar to K derived from mineral fertilizers . Because of the rapid release of the K present in organic fertilizers and of the short period that beetroot remains in the field, especially when propagated by seedlings, the supply of this nutrient in top dressing can be discarded on soil fertilized with mineral fertilizers and organic compost at planting had been established.
4. Increasing trend of organic food consumption
The number of organic food consumers is increasing due to the increasing awareness of health and food safety concerns. It is believed that organic food is substantially healthier and safer than conventional food, and consumers are willing to pay significant price premiums to get it [29, 30]. Even if vary across countries as well as between certifiers specific regulations governing organic production . Consumer belief that organic food is virtually free of the hazards found in conventional produce as organic farmers practiced non-use of synthetic chemicals and a number of other environmentally sound techniques which make them part of the allure of the organic movement . Perception of consumer for the quality and safety are what primarily drives the growing demand for organic food products . In fact, in some cases (e.g. organic baby food), the organic label is by far the most important characteristic that consumers give value in food; however its nutrient content being far less appreciated .
5. Organic fertilizer
Manure can be considered as key to restoring the productivity of degraded soils. Because it supplies multiple nutrients, increases soil pH and improves soil organic matter which in turn improves the physical and chemical properties of the soil . The main sources of organic matter are; cattle dung, urine, litter, crop residues / waste like sugarcane trash, straw, poultry, sheep and goat dropping, waste from fruit and vegetables, press mud from sugar industries, rice husk and bran /dust from textile industries. These all organic matter can be used for building up and maintaining organic matter in soil to conserve the fertility and as well as soil physical condition and to increase the fertilizer use efficiency .
Application of vermicompost has positive effects on beetroot and showed that the highest growth, yield and yield components are obtained at highest level (7.5 t/ha) of vermicompost. However, Vermiwash experiment showed non-significant difference in all traits of the crop . Amending soils with vermicompost enhances the vegetative growth, fresh root and leaf yield and harvest index of beetroots. Among the different application rates of vermicompost used, the highest rate of 30t/ha proved to be the best in enhancing the vegetative growth, fresh root and leaf yield and harvest index of beetroots.
The lowest marketable yields, but of well-coloured beet roots with a low nitrate content are obtained from the zero-fertilization control plots and from the treatment with manure alone at 20 t/ha . Kosson et al. confirmed the higher content of betanine in organic beet roots when compared to conventional ones and showed that its level depends on weather conditions at the time of planting, fertilization and plant genotype . The application of the organic compost increases root production, but it does not affect the physicochemical quality of the beetroots .Generally application of organic fertilizer is important for beetroot production. But, the application of only organic manures does not meet the nutrient demands of the crop during the initial phase of crop growth because of their slow release of nutrient. So that, a sustainable production system which can meet the nutrient demands of the crop should be developed.
6. Integrated Fertilizer
Several scientists are advocating the integrated nutrient management with organic and inorganic fertilizers to conserve the soil health and to get good quality produce . Complementary uses of chemical and organic fertilizers have great importance now a day to maintain as well as sustain a higher level of soil fertility and crop productivity . At lower levels of fertilization with manure (20 and 40 t/ha), the additional fertilization with mineral nitrogen increased the marketable yield of red beet roots, but it reduced betanine content and increased the level of nitrates in comparison with the corresponding treatments with manure only. The highest total yields of whole red beet plants (roots + leaves) were obtained from the treatment in which manure was applied at 60 t/ha+ 60 kg N/ha, and amounted to 76.8 and 73.7 t/ha, respectively. In this combination, the additional mineral fertilization with nitrogen increased the share of the leaves in the total yield of whole plants compared to fertilization with manure only. In the experiment, the marketable yield of red beets in this combination was lower than from the treatment with manure alone at 60 t/ha. In the organic fertilization combined with mineral nitrogen, the highest increase in yield was obtained from the treatment with 20 t/ha manure + 180 kg N/ha. In the experiment, this combination produced a significant increase in marketable yield under the influence of mineral fertilization with nitrogen in comparison with a similar treatment with manure only. In the treatment with manure at the rate of 40 t/ha, the additional mineral fertilization with nitrogen at 120 kg N/ha did not have any large effect on the marketable yield. This shows that fertilization of beetroot with integrated of both organic and inorganic fertilizer has an advantage if they are applied at appropriate level.
7. Summary and Conclusion
Adequate use of mineral fertilizers and organic manures is of great importance for obtaining high yield and quality of produce in one hand and on the other hand prevention of adverse effects on soil health and environment . Organic inputs are often proposed as alternatives to mineral fertilizers. However, the farmers’ organic inputs, crop residues and animal manures cannot meet crop nutrient demand over large areas because of the limited quantities available, low nutrient content of the materials, and the high labor demands for processing and application. Therefore, most farmers in Africa fall within the two extremes of the organic to inorganic fertilizer continuum and use a combination of organic and inorganic inputs (42). Furthermore, it is difficult to make precise recommendations for chemical fertilizers unless they are site specific since the reports for various fertilizer experiments are quite variable . The model of application of combination of organic manure and chemical fertilizers has shown remarkable effects of yield and quality. Because manure and chemical fertilizers have a potential role on the growth and development of crops (41). As a result, integrated use of organic manure and chemical fertilizers is valuable for optimum yield potential, root quality and environment-friendly sustainable farming systems and increase of profit margins for growers. An appropriate combination of chemical fertilizers and organic manures is a possible way-forward to achieve reasonable yield and quality. But, since there is no satisfactory research conducted on the production of beet root growers don’t have sufficient information of using appropriate agricultural practices. It is therefore further much more research will be needed to better define the organic manure and chemical fertilizers requirements of beetroot.
I would heartedly like to thank and praise the Lord Almighty God in giving me strength and Wellbeing to successfully complete this review. I sincerely thank Mulualem Azene for all the necessary support and advice. Finally, all the reference materials used in this review paper are dully acknowledged.
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