Cucumber (Cucumis sativus Linn.) belongs to the family of cucurbits or cucurbitaceae. It is a warm season crop that matures relatively in a short period of time. Cucumber can be grown on almost any kind of good soil. A light heavy and well drained soil, which contains an abundance of organic matter, is favorable for growing cucumber. In the Philippines, cucumber is known as “pipino”. The fruits are processed into sweet pickles and in many cases it is eaten raw as salad.
Cucumber fruit is said to have a cleansing property for skin blemishes. Considering its importance in food industry, the need to develop a technology to increase its production becomes necessary. Cucumber can produce bigger and more fruits when it is applied with fertilizer. There are two kinds of fertilizers that can be used, the organic and inorganic or commercial fertilizer.
Nowadays, many farmers depend on using commercial fertilizers but using this can make the soil acidic. Organic fertilizers such as: chicken dung, cow manure, pig manure, decomposed rice straws and particularly the vermicasting is recommended by many scientists.
Vermi-composting, also called vermicasting, is the process of composting organic wastes through earthworms. By using this compost, soil will become productive because earthworms can enhance the soil fertility so that the plants are capable of growing vigorously.
Many scientists considered earthworms as plant growth promoter. With the use of the vermi-composting method, farmers can gain more profit instead of using commercial and expensive fertilizers. The levels will serve as basis of comparison and to be able to determine which of the level of application will perform better. This will also help the researcher recommend which of the amount tested will give the greatest performance in terms of growth and yield. Vermi-composting is an organic fertilizer commonly used in the current farming practices or technologies which are being introduced to be able to avoid and minimize pollution to our environment. This will help strengthen the practice inorganic application of fertilizer and shift to the traditional methods.
Objectives of the Study
This study was primarily conducted to find out the growth and yield performance of cucumber as affected by the application of the different levels of vermi-compost. Specifically, this study aimed to answer the following questions: 1. To determine the effect of using the different levels of vermi-compost to cucumber plants with reference to length of vines and number of lateral branches. 2. Which level of vermi-compost that will give the best yield of cucumber with respect to a) average number of fruits per plot, b) percentage number of marketable fruits per plot, c) number of marketable fruits per plant, and d) weight of marketable fruits per plant.
Scope and Delimitation of the Study
This study was limited to the growth and yield performance of cucumber as affected by the application of different levels of vermi-compost. The study consisted of four treatments with each treatment replicated three times. The treatments were as follows:
Treatment A – Control (Without Application)
Treatment B – 3 tons per ha of Vermi-compost
Treatment C – 5 tons per ha of Vermi-compost
Treatment D – 7 tons per ha of Vermi-compost
Time and Place of the Study
This study was conducted from November 20, 2011 to January 17, 2012 at the experimental site of Capiz State University, Pontevedra Campus.
Definition of Terms
The following terms were defined operationally to provide readers a clearer understanding of the study: Average number of fruits the total number of fruit produced in every plant in a hill. Basal application is a method of applying fertilizer two days before planting the seeds of cucumber. Big-C refers to the variety of cucumber seeds used in the study. Cucumber is a creeping vine that roots in the ground and grows up trellises or other supporting frames, wrapping around supports with thin, spiraling tendrils. DAP refer to days after planting.
Growth refers to the increase in length of vine and number of productive cucumber plants. Levels are the amount of Vermi-compost applied in holes. Marketable fruits refer to the cucumber fruits without damage and are free from physical defect.
Non-marketable fruits refer to the cucumber fruits that have been damaged by insect pests and diseases and have physical defects. Performance of maturity is the length of time from seedlings to last harvest of cucumber fruit. Vermi-compost is an organic waste through earthworm.
Yield refers to the amount of the harvested cucumber fruits in kilograms and tons per hectare. Weight of marketable fruits refer to the weight of cucumber fruits without damage and are free from physical defect.
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
In 2003, Bierman found out that tomato shoot dry weights increased significantly in vermi-compost-treated plots over those in tomato plants treated with inorganic fertilizers only. Marketable tomato yields in vermi-compost-treated plots were consistently greater, but not statistically different from yields in organic fertilizer-treated plots. Results of his study also revealed a significantly more microbial biomass N and orthophosphates in soils from pepper plots treated with vermi-compost compared to those from inorganic fertilizer-treated plots. There were also significant increases in pepper shoot dry weights, leaf areas and marketable fruits yields in plants treated with vermi-composts, compared to those from the organic fertilizer-treated plants. However, no significant differences were observed in pepper yields between the vermi-compost application rates of 5 t ha-1 or 10 t ha-1.
In another study conducted by Chaoui, et al. (2003), it was noted that Vermi-composting differs from conventional composting because the organic materials are processed by the digestive system of worms. The authors also stated that the digested casts can be used to improve the fertility and physical characteristics of soil and potting media. In this study, the effects of earthworm casts (EW), conventional compost (CP) and NPK inorganic fertilizer (FT) amendments on N mineralization rates, microbial respiration, and microbial biomass were investigated in laboratory incubation conditions.
In 2006, Dellava experimented on the growth parameters of gourds in terms of length of fruits and found out that chicken dung give the longest length of gourd fruits. He then recommended the use of chicken dung as fertilizer for higher profit from gourd production.
In another study made by Depla (2008) results revealed non-significant differences among treatments in weight of bush sitao pods in tons per hectare when applied with different organic fertilizers.
Oroceo (2008) as cited by Borlado (2011) stated that yield parameters were not significantly affected by the different levels of organic fertilizers except for ear length of corn. The study revealed that corn produced the same quality and quantity of fruits with or without organic fertilizers.
Ruther (1942) as cited by Deslate (2006), stated that organic fertilizer is a source of humus and as an organic matter, it improves the physical conditions of the soil and its water holding capacity, as well as its aeration and temperate relations.
Finally, a study was conducted by Shorafa (2010) using yard leaf manure vermi-compost (V) and compost (C) of 0,1,3,6 and 9 percent of pot weight on corn (Zeamays Lin.) seeds grown in pots. Results of this experiment revealed that root and shoot dry matters (DM) were greatest in 1 and 3 percent vermi-compost, respectively. Results also demonstrated a decrease in shoot DM in pots containing 3, 6 and 9 percent compost in comparison with V and Control (0%).
Further, soil analysis in this same study revealed the presence of macronutrients which include nitrogen, phosphorous, iron, calcium, and magnesium and micronutrients which include zinc, copper and manganese. Concentrations of N, P, K, Ca, Mg in other treatments were higher than in the Control (only soil). Fe and Mn concentrations were also significantly higher in other treatments than in the Control. On the other hand, the concentration of Cu was higher in the Control. The author concluded that physical properties of soil were affected by the application of compost and vermi-compost.