People across the globe use Cassava as a vital calories source. It is a plant rich in nutrients, such as vitamins C and B, calcium, potassium, and carbohydrates. Cassava plants don’t have any specific requirements for growth. They can grow even in challenging environments and relatively mineral poor soils.
Need of less nutrients make Cassava an important food crop in Asia, Africa and America. Therefore, researchers are struggling to increase its yield. For instance, a recent study published in Agronomy journal indicated that farmers can increase the cassava yields by adding phosphorus and calcium. Ultimately, the cooking time for the Cassava would increase.
The co-author of the study, Adalton Fernandes, said that growing cassava in the tropics is challenging. One such challenge is to deal with low phosphorus and acidic soils.
Why Phosphorus is essential?
Phosphorus is essential for the growth of Cassava. Locked phosphorous in soil can be make available to plants only if the soil is basic.
Therefore, farmers should add calcium carbonate to soils to increase the basicity. The less acidic soil also helps in the better growth of the cassava crops; hence, increase the yield of the edible roots.
However, there are still some questions about liming the cassava crops that needs to be answered
“It was generally believed that adding calcium to the soil could increase cassava root cooking times,” says Fernandes, a researcher at the Center of Tropical Roots and Starches, São Paulo State University, Botucatu, Brazil.
On the other hand, Fernandes find something different. Their research team observed that liming doesn’t affect the cooking time of cassava much. Moreover, they also observed an increase in the cassava yield after liming and applying phosphorus fertilizer.
According to research results,
The weight of cassva roots was 270 g in the absence of phosphorus fertilizers and liming. On the other hand, the weight of roots increases to 350 g after applying the phosphorus fertilizers and liming. Thus, a 26% increase in weight was observed with the addition of phosphorus after liming.
It took over two years to complete the research. The research was conducted 140 miles away from the Sao Paulo, in the experimental farm of Botucatu.
First of all, liming was done on the experimental farms. Then, phosphorus fertilizer was applied to half of the plot. On the other hand, 70kg of fertilizer was added to the remaining experimental farm.
After the plant was fully grown, researchers compared the characteristics of the plants both after and before applying the phosphorus fertilizer. In the analysis, they analyzed the cooking time, root weight, root length and number of roots per plant.
- 8% increase in the number of roots
- 22% increase in Cassava root yield with phosphorus
- 28% increase in Cassava root yield with liming
- 6% increase in cooking time
According to Fernandes, one of the authors, said “we observed that phosphorus-fertilized cassava roots did not cook faster. So, phosphorus fertilization is not a recommended or viable way to reduce cooking times for cassava roots.
In future, researchers want to experiment with different types of Cassava. According to author, different types of cassava types show different effects after applying fertilization and liming.