Poor soil fertility is a major cause of low yield of amaranth in Nigeria. Optimum productivity of the vegetable is also constrained by insect pests that cause reduction in yield and quality. Incorporation of effective microorganisms (EM) into organic matter is capable of positively influencing decomposition and mineralization. The present study assessed the effects of poultry manure treated and untreated with effective microorganisms on growth performance, yield and insect pest infestation on Amaranthus hybridus. The experimental design used was a randomized complete block design (RCBD) with 3 replications. The treatments consist of poultry manure treated with effective microorganism activated solution (PM + EMAS), poultry manure only (PM), and the control (C). Data were collected on shoot height, stem girth, number of leaves per plant, leaf area, total fresh leaf weight and mean pest number. The results from this study shows that incorporation of effective microorganisms into poultry manure significantly increased shoot height, stem diameter, leaf number, leaf area and fresh leaf weight. A significantly (P< 0.05) higher fresh weight (36.85 kg) of A. hybridus was obtained in plots treated with PM+EMAS. This was followed by plots treated with PM only (25.08 kg). The control had a significantly least fresh weight of 14.21 kg. Six insect species from 4 orders and 5 families were encountered on A. hybridus during the study period. They include Zonocerus variegatus, Podagrica spp., Hymenia recurvalis, Nezara viridula, Psara bipunctalis and Sylepta derogata. Hymenia recurvalis was the most prevalent pest recorded in the control plot (16.4). Generally, fewer number of pest species were observed in plots treated with PM+EMAS. The use of effective microorganisms in organic farming is a viable tool for curbing the menace arising from the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
Key words: Amaranthus hybridus, poultry manure, effective microorganisms, growth parameters, yield, pest infestation.
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