Tomato and Sweet Corn Growth: Conventional vs Organic

Abstract: Nutrient management plays a key role in improving crop yield with maintenance of soil fertility for sustainable production in intensive cropping. Field experiments were conducted to study the effect of organic and conventional fertilizer sources on growth, yield, and nitrogen use efficiency of tomato and sweet corn crop and on changes in chemical and biological properties in acid lateritic soil of eastern India. The tomato was grown during dry season (November-February) and sweet corn during wet season (May-July) in the cropping system during the years 2008 to 2010. The organic nutrient inputs were vermicompost (VC), vermiwash (VW), biofertilizer (BF) and crop residue (CR) and the conventional input was chemical fertilizer (CF). The treatments were CF at 100% recommended dose of N, P and K (CF 100), VC at 100% N recommendation (VC 100), VC 50+CF 50, CR, VC 50+CR, VC 50+VW+BF, and a control (no fertilizer application). The treatments with optimal dose of fertilizer application i.e. CF 100, VC 100 and VC 50+CF 50 were statistically at par and they were significantly superior to suboptimal dose of VC with other organic sources, in increasing yield of both tomato and sweet corn. Among the fertilized treatments, maximum N uptake was noted in CF 100 treatment, but maximum N use efficiency in VC-based treatments. The VC-based treatments registered lower soil available macronutrients (N, P and K), but higher organic carbon and micronutrient (Fe, Mn, Zn and Cu) as compared to CF treatment at the end of two years cropping system. Inclusion of BF in VC-based treatment was more promising in increasing the microbial count by three fold as compared to the CF treatment. Organic fertilizer application, therefore exhibited potential in improving crop yield, N use efficiency and soil health in acid lateritic soil of the subtropical climate.

Reference: Murmu, K., et al. (2013). Comparative assessment of conventional and organic nutrient management on crop growth and yield and soil fertility in tomato-sweet corn production system. Australian Journal of Crop Science 7(11): 1617-1626. Available online at