Parthenium hysterophorus L. AS A SOURCE OF NUTRIENTS FOR MAIZE (Zea mays) AND SORGHUM (Sorghum bicolor)
To evaluate the potential of the invasive alien weed; Parthenium hysterophorus L., as a source of nutrients for growth of maize and sorghum, experiments were conducted in pots at the Department of Weed Science under ambient conditions and subsequently repeated at the Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering, University of Agriculture, Peshawar, Pakistan under controlled environment. Fresh plants of Parthenium and berseem were collected before flowering stage, chopped into about 1 cm pieces, dried and then incorporated into soil 30 days before planting. The treatments included NPK at recommended dose alone and NPK + 1, 2, 3 and 4% dried parthenium (w/w of soil). For comparison, treatments like dried berseem 2% (w/w) and untreated (0 NPK and 0 Parthenium or berseem); were also employed. The experiments were replicated four times as factorial in completely randomized design (CRD). Eight seeds each of sorghum and maize were separately seeded in each pot ultimately thinned to 5 plants per pot. Since the statistical differences between the two experiments were non- significant, the data were pooled before subjecting it to ANOVA and mean separation. The statistical analyses of data exhibited significant differences for fertilizer treatments for all the parameters studied and the differences between maize and sorghum were also significant for all the parameters studied except fresh biomass, whereas the interaction was significant for the dry biomass only. The data showed that regardless of species the highest fresh and dry biomass plant-1 (9.52, 3.22 g), plant height (46.98 cm), leaf area (71.94 cm2) and root length (10.27 cm) were recorded in the 2% parthenium + NPK recommended dose, but for all the parameters differences were non significant from 3% parthenium + NPK and the NPK alone. These treatments ranked higher than 2% berseem + NPK and the untreated check, where berseem is a conventional green manure crop. Incorporation of 4% parthenium along with NPK adversely affected all the parameters studied, which perhaps was due to its allelopathic effect at higher concentration. Berseem also showed allelopathy to maize and sorghum even greater than parthenium, as it inhibited all the parameters studied. Further research is suggested to confirm these findings.