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Research article ISSN 0976 – 4402

Nutrient content of Indian spinach in saline soil as affected by different

organic manures
Sajal Roy1, Md. Zafar Afsar2, Md. Abul Kashem3
1- Lecturer, Department of Soil Science, University of Chittagong, Chittagong-4331,
2- Assistant Professor, Department of Soil Science, University of Chittagong, Chittagong-
4331, Bangladesh.
3- Associate Professor, Department of Soil Science, University of Chittagong, Chittagong-
4331, Bangladesh.
doi: 10.6088/ijes.2014040404509


The study was carried out to assess the effects of commercial manure and poultry manure on
the growth and nutrient content of Indian spinach (Basella alba) grown in saline soil. To
quantify these effects, we added commercial manure (CM), poultry manure (PM) and a
combination of CM and PM at 10 ton/ha rate. Hence, there were 4 different treatments viz.
control (T1) where no manure was added, CM (T2), PM (T3) and CM+PM (T4). Results
indicated that organic manure additions to soil increased all the vegetative growth parameters
expressed as fresh weight, leaf number, shoot and root length. In addition, concentrations of
K, Ca, Mg, Fe and Mn in all parts of plants increased 2-3 folds over the control irrespective
of organic amendments. The increased growth and nutrient content of plant suggest the
positive effects of organic manures in amelioration of saline soils by enhancing soil fertility
through the release of essential macro and micro elements.

Key words: Commercial manure, Poultry manure, Nutrient content, Saline soil.

1. Introduction
Salinization of land is one of the most important problems in south and south-west coastal
parts of Bangladesh. Over 30 % of the net cultivable area in Bangladesh is in the coast
(Brammer, 1971). Out of the 2.85 million hectares (m ha) of coastal and off-shore area (30%
of net cultivable area), about 0.83 m ha arable land were affected by varying degrees of soil
salinity during 1966-1975 which has increased to 1.02 m ha in 2000 (Khan et al., 2008).
Saline soils are characterized by the occurrence of appreciable amount of soluble sodium
(Na+) that has profound negative impact on chemical and physical properties of soils and
plant growth (Abrol et al., 1988). In Bangladesh, rice production may fall by 10% and wheat
by 30% by 2050 due to salinization (IPCC, 2007). On the other hand, nutrient disturbances
under salinity reduce plant growth by affecting the availability, transport and partitioning of
nutrients. Salinity may cause nutrient deficiencies or imbalances, due to the competition of
Na+ and Cl– with nutrients such as K+, Ca2+, and NO3- (Hu and Schmidhalter, 2005).

There are many different methods of reclamation of saline soils such as physical amelioration
(deep ploughing, sub-soiling, sanding, profile inversion), chemical amelioration (amending of
soil with various reagents e.g., gypsum, calcium chloride, limestone, sulphuric acid, sulphur,
iron sulphate), electro-reclamation (treatment with electric current) (Mahdy, 2011). Though

Received on December2013 Published on March2014 694

Nutrient content of Indian spinach in saline soil as affected by different organic manures

the amelioration of saline soils with chemical amendments is an established technology

(Shainberg et al., 1989: Gupta and Abrol, 1990), the chemical strategies, however, have
become costly for subsistence farmers in the developing countries during the last two decades
because of the increased use by industry and reductions in government subsidy to farmers for
their purchase (Qadir and Oster, 2002). Organic manures not only increase soil fertility, but
enhance soil chemical and physical properties (Maftoun and Moshiri, 2008). The biological
amelioration methods using living or dead organic matter such as crops, stems, straw, green
manure, barnyard manure, compost, sewage sludge have two principal beneficial effects on
reclamation of saline and alkaline soils: improvement of soil structure and permeability thus
enhancing salt leaching, reducing surface evaporation and inhibition of salt accumulation in
surface soils, and release of carbon dioxide during respiration and decomposition (Wang and
Li, 1990). Keeping in view the ameliorating effect of organic manures on saline soils,
Basella alba, a vegetative plant, was selected to observe its response to saline soil under both
organic manure treated and non-treated conditions.

2. Materials and methods

2.1. Collection and preparation of soil and organic manures

For the purpose of this study, soil samples were collected from one of the salt affected areas
in Bangladesh. The bulk soil samples (0–0.15 m) were collected from Assasuni upzila,
Shatkhira which belongs to Assasuni series. The geo-reference of the sampling site is
22°34'N and 89°10'E. Chicken manure was collected from nearby chicken farm and
commercial manure named as Bio mill was collected from local market of Chittagong,

The collected soil samples were air dried; visible roots and debris were removed and
discarded. Larger and massive aggregates were broken by gentle crushing with a wooden
hammer and screened through a 5 mm stainless steel sieve. The sieved samples were then
mixed thoroughly to make the composite sample. These soil samples were used for growing
plants in pots. A portion of the soil samples were further screened through a 2 mm sieve that
were used for various laboratory analyses. After collection organic manures were air dried
and sieved through 2 mm sieve for mixing with soil in pot experiment and chemical analyses.

2.2. Set-up of Experiment

Plastic pots of 5 kg sizes with no hole at the bottom were used. Then 3 kg of 5 mm sieved soil
samples were taken in each pot. The requisite amounts of N, P and K were supplied from
urea, triple super phosphate (TSP) and muriate of potash (MOP), respectively. The whole of
urea, TSP and MOP were applied at the time of soil preparation. There were four different
treatments viz. control (T0), commercial manure (T1), poultry manure (T2), a mixture of
commercial manure and poultry manure (T3). There were three replications for each
treatment. A total of 12 pots were used [4 treatment × 1 rates × 3 replications = 12 pots].
Manures were well mix with soil two weeks before sowing of the seed. The pots were
arranged in a completely randomized design. Five seeds of Indian Spinach (Basella alba)
were sown in each pot and allowed to germinate. After germination one healthy plant was
allowed to grow in every pot. Pots were watered daily with tap water to keep the soil moister
at field capacity condition. The treatment combinations are as follows:
T0: soil without manure (Control)
T1: soil + Commercial Manure (10 ton/ha)

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Nutrient content of Indian spinach in saline soil as affected by different organic manures

T2: soil + Poultry Manure (10 ton/ha)

T3: soil + CM (5 ton/ha) + PM (5 ton/ha)

2.3. Collection and processing of plant samples

The plants were harvested 45 days after germination. The plants were sampled carefully by
uprooting them. Plants were separated into root, shoot and leaves. The roots of the plants
were washed first with tap water and then again with deionized distilled water to remove ions
and any adhering particles from the root free space as well as from root surface. Shoots and
leaves of the plants were also washed. The wet samples were dried using paper towels. Then
the samples were first air-dried and then oven-dried at 70 ± 5 ℃ for 72 hours for complete
removal of moisture.

2.4. Analysis of soil and organic manures

Soil pH and electrical conductivity (EC) was determined in soil-water suspension by glass
electrode pH meter and EC meter after preparing the suspension in the ratio of soil: water,
1:2.5 for pH and 1:5 for EC (m/V). For the determination of pH, the suspension of organic
manure was prepared in the ratio of 1:5 (m/V). Organic carbon content of soil was determined
by Walkley and Black wet oxidation method. The particle size distribution was determined
by the hydrometer method. For the determination of available N, the soil sample was
extracted with 1N KCl solution at soil: extractant ratio of 1:10. The exchangeable Na and K
of the soils were extracted with 1N ammonium acetate at pH 7.

The available P of the soil was determined calorimetrically following the blue color method
using ascorbic acid at wavelength of 880 nm after extracting by using 0.5 M NaHCO3. For
the determination of total P, K and S organic manures were digested with concentrated HNO3
and soil samples were digested with aqua regia (HNO3 : HCl = 1 : 3). Total N was
determined by alkali distillation following digestion with concentrated H2SO4 for complete
breakdown the soil and manure. Total P was determined at 490 nm after developing yellow
color with vanadomolybdate. Total and exchangeable K and Na were measured by flame
photometer. The total S was determined by turbidimetry using Tween‐80. The methods of
analyses were followed as outlined by Huq and Alam (2005).

2.5. Analysis of plant samples

The oven dried plant samples were digested with HNO3 on a digestion block. Samples were
normally predigested overnight over a temperature range of about 50oC. The temperature was
gradually increased to a final temperature of 350 0C for the final dissolution of the organic
material (Huq et al., 2009). This extract was used for the determination of K, Ca, Mg, Fe and
Mn of plant. The amounts of K, Ca, Mg, Fe and Mn were determined by atomic absorption

2.6. Statistical analysis

All data was processed and statistically analyzed by using Microsoft Excel (Microsoft Office
2010) and SPSS (version 16) Packages.

3. Results

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The collected soil was silty clay (4.58% sand, 52.73% silt and 42.69% clay) in texture and
slightly alkaline in reaction (pH 8.1). The EC of soil was 7.2 dS m-1. Initial concentration of
some chemical elements of the soil are furnished as 1.4% organic carbon, 0.12% total N,
0.16% total S, 65.8 mg kg-1 total P, 27.5 meq/100g total K, 13.61 mg kg-1 available P, 155.06
mg kg-1 available S, 8.38 meq/100g exchangeable Ca, 7.54 meq/100g exchangeable Mg and
6.72 meq/100g exchangeable Na . The pH of both commercial and poultry manure was
almost neutral in reaction (7.13 and 6.96 respectively). Total concentration of N, P, K and S
was 2.12, 1.24, 1.59 and 0.93% respectively for commercial manure and 2.56, 0.95, 1.53 and
1.02 % respectively for poultry manure.

Table 1 shows mean length, fresh matter production and number of leaves. Fresh matter
production was observed on the aerial part of Indian Spinach. Fresh matter production was
favored by application of organic manures. The lowest fresh matter weight of aerial part of
plant was found in the control (no manure was added) and the highest fresh matter production
was noted in the manure treated pots (PM followed by CM and CM+PM). The number of
leaves and length of roots and weight of fresh matter were almost double in organic manure
treated conditions in comparison to control. The effects of PM, CM and their combinations
(CM+PM) on growth parameters were not significantly different.

Table 1: Mean fresh weight, height and number of leaves of Indian Spinach
Treatment Fresh weight Length (cm) Leaves
(g pot ) plant-1
Shoot Root
T0 (Control) 28.56c 34c 4b 10c
T1 (CM) 57.02b 45a 7a 22a
T2 (PM) 60.05a 43ab 8a 20ab
T3(CM+PM) 58.34ab 42b 8a 19b
Means followed by the same letter (s) in a column (s) do not differ significantly from each other
at 5% level of significance

Table 2 shows the concentrations of K, Ca, Mg, Fe and Mn in plant leaves of plants. From
this table it is revealed that the application of organic manure in saline soils increased K
concentration in leaves of Indian Spinach compared to control. The difference in the
concentration of K was significant at 5% level of significance. Application of organic
manures enhanced the availability as well as supply of K to the plant during growth period.
Potassium concentration in leaves was 1.49, 1.52 and 1.27- folds higher in CM, PM, and
CM+PM treated plants compared to control.

Table 2: Nutrient concentrations in leaves of Indian Spinach as affected by organic manures

Treatment K (%) Ca (%) Mg (%) Fe (%) Mn (mg/kg)
b a ab a
T0 (Control) 1.25 1.97 1.48 0.20 41.3c
T1 (CM) 2.33a 1.93a 1.71a 0.17a 91.8b
a a b a
T2 (PM) 2.44 1.97 1.21 0.19 164.9a
T3(CM+PM) 2.38ab 1.83a 1.44ab 0.22a 176.0a
Means followed by the same letter (s) in a column (s) do not differ significantly from each other at 5%
level of significance.

The concentrations of Ca, Mg and Fe except Mn in the leaves were similar when plants
grown in the control and manure amended soils. The addition of both commercial manure
and poultry manure increased the concentration of Mn in leaves significantly than the control.

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The highest concentration of Mn was found in CM+PM treated plant leaves, however the Mn
concentration was statistically similar in the leaves plants grown in PM and CM+PM
amended soil. Manganese concentrations were 2.22, 3.99 and 4.26 times higher in CM, PM
and CM+PM treated plant leaves respectively over control.Similar to nutrient concentrations
in leaves of Indian spinach, addition of organic manure in saline soil increased 2-3 folds of K,
Ca, Mg, Fe and Mn concentrations in the shoots over the control (Table 3). The build-up of
these elements is attributable to application of the manures suggesting that the manure
positively affected the growth of plants and hence their content in plants. The influence of
manures in the case of K, Ca, Mg, Fe and Mn concentration in shoots of plants were not
significantly different.

Table 3: Nutrient concentrations in shoot of Indian Spinach as affected by organic manures

Treatment K (%) Ca (%) Mg (%) Fe (%) Mn (mg/kg)
c b b ab
T0 (Control) 1.34 0.94 0.91 0.11 11.9c
T1 (CM) 2.41ab 1.10a 1.44a 0.23a 28.7b
T2 (PM) 2.90a 1.03ab 1.02b 0.19ab 33.4a
T3(CM+PM) 2.97a 1.14ab 1.05b 0.24a 35.0a
Means followed by the same letter (s) in a column (s) do not differ significantly from each other at 5%
level of significance.
Similar to leaves and shoots of plant, the highest concentrations of K, Ca, Mg, Fe and Mn
were found in roots when organic manures were applied in soils and lower in the control
(Table 4). The highest amount of K was obtained in PM followed by CM+PM and CM. The
concentration of K in CM, PM and CM+PM was more than 2-folds higher over control,
however, the magnitude of concentrations of other elements (Ca, Mg, Fe and Mn) in the roots
among the manure treatments were not consistent.

Table 4: Nutrient concentrations in root of Indian Spinach as affected by organic manures

Treatment K (%) Ca (%) Mg (%) Fe (%) Mn (mg/kg)
T0 (Control) 1.46c 0.30b 0.27b 0.67b 65b
T1 (CM) 2.25b 0.70a 0.43a 1.59a 250a
T2 (PM) 2.77a 0.58a 0.51a 1.38a 230a
T3(CM+PM) 2.56a 0.68a 0.47a 1.41a 225a
P value 0.00 0.84 0.84 0.02 0.02
Means followed by the same letter (s) in a column (s) do not differ significantly from each other at 5%
level of significance.

4. Discussion

The increase in yield with the addition of organic manures is consistent with several other
studies (Mahdy, 2011: Maftoun and Moshiri, 2008: Dikinya and Mufwanzala, 2010). The
addition of organic manures buffer or offset the severity of crop damage caused by soil
salinity (Hu and Schmidhalter, 2005). Saline soil induces physiological and metabolic
disturbances in plants, affecting growth development, yield, and quality of plants (Jouyban,
2012). Photosynthesis and respiration rate of plants are also decreased by salt stress (Fisarakis
et al., 2001). In a study, Yildirim et al. (2006) found that salinity negatively affected growth
of squash but addition of biological treatments significantly increased fresh weight and
uptake of potassium compared to the non-treated control in saline condition. Organic manure
increased the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium content of sweet fennel plants (Saleh et al.,
2003). Abou El-Magd et al, (2008) observed increased plant height, leaf number, fresh and

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dry weight of the total plant and N, P, K, Ca and K/Na contents of the leaves and bulbs under
organic manure treatment.

Saline soils contain high concentrations of soluble NaCl that act antagonistically to the
uptake of the other nutrients, such as K+, Ca2+, N and P (Cramer et al., 1991: Grattan and
Grieve, 1999). High concentrations of NaCl increase the concentration of Na+ and Cl- and
reduce concentrations of Ca2+, K+ and Mg2+ in many plant species (Bayuelo- Jimenez et al.,
2003). The lowest content of K in non-treated soils may be due to antagonistic effects of Na+
on K+ absorption and/or abnormal Na+:K+ ratio in saline soils. Qi and Spadling (2004)
reported that increased concentrations of Na+ block channel used for the uptake of K+, and in
this way reduce the uptake of K+. However, the degree of tolerance of plants to the salinity is
higher if they have a more efficient system for the selective uptake of K+ instead of N+
(Ashraf, 2004: Carden et al., 2003). Organic manures served as a source of nutrients that
resulted in higher concentration of nutrients in plants treated with organic manures compared
to non-treated soils.

The decreased concentration of Ca2+ and Mg2+ in roots and shoots under saline conditions
(control pots) might be due to its precipitation and the increase in ionic strength that reduces
its activity. Sodium ion (Na+) readily displaces Ca2+ from its extracellular binding sites which
results in reduced availability of under salinity, especially at low Ca2+ : Na+ ratios (Hu and
Schmidhalter, 2005). In another study, Hu and Schmidhalter (1998) did not find any
difference in Ca2+ accumulation between the control and saline treatments in leaves of wheat
plants grown in soil. Unno et al. (2002) found that Ca2+ accumulation in plants depends on
the resistance to salt stress and decreases in the shoots of salt-sensitive plants under salt stress,
suggesting that the ability of plants to retain Ca2+ is associated with their salt resistance.
Significant decreases were seen in the concentrations of Al, Ca, Fe, Mg, N, P, K, Na, and S in
response to increases in salinity (Browna, 2006). Hegde (1996) also reported a significant
increase in Fe and Mn availability due to organic matter application. The application of sheep
manure in saline condition significantly increased N, Fe, Cu, Zn and Mn concentrations of
soybean roots (Mahmoodabadi et al., 2010).

5. Conclusion

The study revealed that organic manure is a potential source of plant nutrients and chemical
conditioner. The results indicate an increase of plant yield and better nutritional quality with
the addition of commercial manure or poultry manure separately or in combination. Organic
treatments may help to alleviate the negative effect of salinity on the growth and nutrient
content of plants. From the results it can be recommended to add organic manure at the rate
of 10 t ha-1 in order to overcome or reduce the toxic effect of salinity and to obtain relatively
good plant growth, yield, good quality and nutrient content.

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