Optimization of productivity and quality of irrigated tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) by smallholder farmers in the Central Rift Valley area of Oromia, Ethiopia

Ambecha O. Gemechis

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU

Abstract

Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) is a vegetable crop with high potential to contribute to poverty reduction via increased income and food security. It is widely grown by smallholders, has high productivity and its demand is increasing. Ethiopia produced about 30,700 Mg of tomatoes on 5,027 ha annually in 2014/2015. Average yields are only 6.1 Mg ha-1, below the world average yields. There is both a need and a potential to increase tomato production per unit area.

The aim of this thesis is to analyze the irrigated tomato production systems of smallholder farmers in Ethiopia, to survey and characterize the tomato in selected ecoregions and seasons, and to identify yield-limiting or yield-reducing factors and opportunities to enhance yield by using a combination of surveys and field experiments. Field experiments on optimization of yield and quality of field-grown tomato were carried out at Ziway, Ethiopia, for two seasons to study the impact of different irrigation practices applied, based on local empirical practices, deficit irrigation, or crop water requirement.

This thesis begins with a survey of tomato production systems. The survey details the area and production in various zones and for each of these zones yield- determining, yield-limiting, and yield-reducing factors and opportunities for improving yield and quality are indicated. It also avails area, production and yield data for each growing season and typifies the production systems in these zones. Low temperature (cold) from October-January and shortage of improved seeds are recognized as yield-determining factors, whereas insufficient water and nutrient (fertilizer) supply proved to be yield-limiting factors across zones. Late blight (Phytophthora infestans), Fusarium wilt (Fusarium oxysporum) and different pests and weeds are identified as yield-reducing factors in the zones. Experienced growers who have access to extension service recorded significant yield increment. Farmers Research Groups improved actual average yield with the use of improved technology (improved varieties and quality seed), and better efficiencies of water and fertilizer use. This study quantified influences of irrigation systems and strategies on growth-determining tomato features. Variation in irrigation systems and strategies accounted for variation in growth and dry matter accumulation. Greater performance for yield-related traits was obtained with drip irrigation based on crop water requirement for tomato varieties. Examination of plants showed also that local empirical irrigation is responsible for the occurrence of Phytophthora root rot, whereas deficit irrigation proved cause for occurrence of Fusarium wilt (Fusarium oxysporum), blossom end rot and broome rape (Orobanche ramosa) on roots or leaves, stems or fruits.

The experiments on irrigation scheduling with different irrigation systems and strategies gave useful indications on the possibility to improve commercial yield (CY) and water use efficiency. Promising results on CY and agronomical water use efficiency of tomato were achieved with drip irrigation based on crop water requirement, while for the biological water use efficiency higher value was obtained with deficit drip irrigation in both seasons. The findings indicate that the CY was decreased significantly for deficit by 50% in drip irrigation and deficit by 50% in furrow irrigation in both seasons. Mean CY for drip irrigation according to crop water requirement increased by 51% and 56% compared with deficit drip irrigation, whereas furrow irrigation based on crop water requirement increased by 52% and 54% compared with deficit furrow in Experiments 1 and 2, respectively. However, water use efficiency decreased with the increasing water volume.

Simultaneous measurements of rate of photosynthesis based on gas exchange measurements and the thylakoid electron flux based on chlorophyll fluorescence were used to investigate physiological limitations to photosynthesis in leaves of deficit irrigated tomato plants under open field situations. Combined leaf gas exchange/chlorophyll fluorescence measurements differentiated the treatments effectively. Reduction in rate of photosynthesis, stomatal conductance and the maximum quantum efficiency of photosystem II varied across seasons of all varieties, whereas leaf temperature was increased by deficit irrigation in all varieties. Among varieties studied, Miya was found relatively tolerant to deficit irrigation. Stomatal limitation of rate of photosynthesis increased significantly as a result of water stress suggesting a strong influence of the stomatal behaviour.

We also determined the influence of irrigation systems and strategies on water saving and tomato fruit quality. Using deficit drip irrigation was the best management strategy to optimize water use and tomato quality. Fruit dry matter content, acid content and total soluble solids were significantly higher with deficit drip irrigation than with other treatments.

From this thesis it appeared that agro-climatic conditions, access to resources and culture all contribute to the relatively low yields of tomato in the Central Rift Valley of Ethiopia. The thesis also proved that significant advances can be made in yield, quality and resource use efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Struik, Paul, Promotor
  • Emana, B., Co-promotor, External person
Award date29 May 2017
Place of PublicationWageningen
Publisher
Print ISBNs9789463431576
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • solanum lycopersicum
  • irrigation
  • crop production
  • optimization
  • photosynthesis
  • chlorophyll
  • gas exchange
  • water use efficiency
  • crop yield
  • ethiopia

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