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Germination and growth responses of Hordeum Vulgare SV13 cultivated as a green fodder crop for African conditions
This study evaluated the effects of 5 different soaking treatments in conjunction with 5 varying irrigation intervals on the germination, growth and nutritional values of seed of Hordeum vulgare Sv13. The 5 different soaking times consisted of 1, 3, 8, 16 and 24 hours. The barley seed was first cleaned and then placed in a vessel containing 500 ml of distilled water with a 20 % solution of sodium hypochlorite (bleach) at room temperature. Thereafter the pre-soaked seeds were transferred to a perforated container, containing no medium and placed into a growing chamber equipped with drip irrigation. The seed was then irrigated with 1245 ml of water at 5 different intervals namely every 2, 4, 8 10 and 12 hours. The temperature of the hydroponic growing room was kept at a constant 23 °C using a hotoperiod of 16-hour day/ 8-hour darkness. The seed was allowed to germinate and grow for a period of 8 days before being harvested. The objectives of this study were to determine the most beneficial combination of soaking treatment in conjunction with the most beneficial irrigation interval on the germination rate of the seed allowing for radicle emergence and coleoptile production. It was also used to determine which combination of treatments was most beneficial to the growth and nutritional values of the seed post-harvest. Another objective was to ascertain the shortest soaking time for application in a small-scale, hydroponic growing unit as well as the frequency of irrigation required to grow seedlings, thereby determining the amount of water required to produce a seedling mat for a small-scale, subsistence farmer, with the emphasis being on water reduction. Each treatment was replicated 10 times and consisted of 500 grams of seed, which when placed into its container measured 2 centimetres in depth, totalling 25 treatments in all. Germination was measured by observing radicle emergence in the first 2 days of the growing period first after a 24-hour cycle and again after 48 hours. The numbers of leaves present at harvest after an 8-day growing period were also counted to determine germination rate of the seeds. Growth was determined by average leaf height as well as the tallest leaf on day 8 of the growing cycle. Root mat expansion was also measured, post-harvest, which was compared to the initial 2 cm planting depth of seed. Wet and dry weights of the plant material were measured post-harvest. Samples of the harvested material were also sent for nitrogen and protein analysis. It was discovered that most of the results favoured a shorter soaking time and an increase in irrigation frequency, bar a few exceptions. Most favoured a pre-soaking time of only 1 hour together with an irrigation frequency of between 2 and 4 hours. This shows that small-scale farmers would be able to reduce the time spent on soaking of their seed. Although the frequency of the irrigation interval remained high further testing would be required to determine if the amount of water applied at each irrigation interval could be reduced and still produce favourable results. It would also remain to be seen if no irrigation during the 8-hour dark photoperiod would have any negative impact on germination, growth and nutritional values of the seedlings.