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Agronomy 2013, 3(1), 1-12; doi:10.3390/agronomy3010001

The Assessment of the Use of Eco-Friendly Nets to Ensure Sustainable Cabbage Seedling Production in Africa

1 Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University, P.O. Box 536-20115, Egerton, Kenya 2 Centre de coopération International en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD), Hortsys, Avenue Agropolis, 34398 Montpellier Cedex 5, France 3 Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University, A440-D Plant and Soil Science Building, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 18 September 2012 / Revised: 2 December 2012 / Accepted: 17 December 2012 / Published: 24 December 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Crop Production)
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High seed cost accompanied by poor germination and seedling performance renders cabbage nursery and field production enterprises unsustainable to many small-scale growers in tropical and sub-tropical countries. In most nurseries, adverse ecological conditions and pest damage are among the major factors responsible for poor seedling performance. The objective of this study was to test the potential use of eco-friendly net (EFN) covers as a low cost technology for sustainable cabbage seedling production. The study was a two-season experiment conducted using a randomized complete block design with five replications and two treatments. Treatments were: the standard open field transplant production (control) and transplant production under 0.4 mm mesh polyethylene net covering. EFN covering increased both temperature and relative humidity, enhanced seedling growth and reduced insect pest damage. Seed germination and seedling emergence were under the net covering earlier. Higher seed germination and seedling survival were recorded under the EFN treatment, indicating a potential for reducing the seed requirement per unit area of cabbage production. Seedlings grown under the nets had higher stomatal conductance and leaf chlorophyll content; furthermore, they grew taller, with more leaves within a shorter period of time compared to the control seedlings. The use of EFN in cabbage nurseries offers a sustainable technology for enhancing seedling performance by reducing pest infestation, thereby lowering production cost and improving the grower’s income.
Keywords: Brassica oleracea var. capitata; sustainable production; seedling performance; pest exclusion Brassica oleracea var. capitata; sustainable production; seedling performance; pest exclusion
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Muleke, E.M.; Saidi, M.; Itulya, F.M.; Martin, T.; Ngouajio, M. The Assessment of the Use of Eco-Friendly Nets to Ensure Sustainable Cabbage Seedling Production in Africa. Agronomy 2013, 3, 1-12.

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