AS  Vol.4 No.11 , November 2013
Microclimate modification using eco-friendly nets and floating row covers improves tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) yield and quality for small holder farmers in East Africa

Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) is one of the important vegetables in supplying vitamins, minerals and fiber to human diets worldwide. Its successful production in the tropics is, however, constrained by environmental variations especially under open field conditions. Two trials were conducted at the Horticulture Research and Teaching Field, Egerton University, Kenya to evaluate the effects of agricultural nets (agronets) herein called eco-friendly nets (EFNs) and floating row covers (FRCs) on microclimate modification, yield, and quality of tomato. A randomized complete block design with five replications was used. Tomato plants were grown under fine mesh EFN (0.4-mm pore diameter) cover, large mesh EFN (0.9-mm pore diameter) cover or FRC. The EFN and FRC were maintained either permanently closed or opened thrice a week from 9 am to 3 pm. Two open control treatments were used: unsprayed (untreated control) or sprayed with chemicals (treated control). The use of EFN or FRC modified the microclimate with higher temperatures, lower diurnal temperature ranges, and higher volumetric water content recorded compared with the controls. On the other hand, light quantity and photosynthetic active radiation were reduced by the use of EFN and FRC compared with the controls. The use of FRC and EFN resulted in more fruit and higher percent in marketable yield compared with open field production. Fruit quality at harvest was also significantly improved by the use of EFN and FRC. Fruits with higher total soluble solids (TSS), lower titratable acidity (TA), and higher sugar acid ratio were obtained in EFN and FRC treatments compared with the controls. Fruits harvested from EFN and FRC were also firmer compared with control fruits. These findings demonstrate the potential of EFN and FRC in modifying microclimate conditions and improving yields and quality of tomato under tropical field conditions.

Cite this paper: Saidi, M. , Gogo, E. , Itulya, F. , Martin, T. and Ngouajio, M. (2013) Microclimate modification using eco-friendly nets and floating row covers improves tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) yield and quality for small holder farmers in East Africa. Agricultural Sciences, 4, 577-584. doi: 10.4236/as.2013.411078.

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