Plantwise Factsheets for Farmers
Using Tithonia as a green manure in tomato
Recognize the problem
requires a lot of fertilisation to yield well. The major nutrients are
potassium, phosphorous, nitrogen and calcium.
of tomatoes is needed, but synthetic fertilizers increase the cost of
producing the crop. Other means of fertilization can help to reduce the costs.
For example, planting green manure plants can help to improve the soil. Tithonia plants are one such option. Tithonia, also known as Mexican
sunflower, is a wild plant that has soft long stems and produces small yellow
flowers. It is a crop that grows mostly wildly but can also be planted. Tithonia can accumulate large amounts
of both nitrogen and phosphorus from the soil. Such nutrients are limited for
tomato production in many Zambian agricultural soils.
Tithonia can be planted to serve as
a green manure plant or collected for mulching to provide green manure for
the tomatoes. When cutting, shredding, or ploughing under the Tithonia plants, they rot easily to
improve soil structure.
- Tithonia can be
found growing wildly or can be grown by spreading seed in the ground. Seeds
can be collected from wild plants or purchased in an agro-input dealer shop.
can plant Tithonia as an intercrop,
or in the season prior to tomato growing. Then, plants should be ploughed
under before tomato growing.
use chopped Tithonia as fertilizers:
back leaves and soft twigs of Tithonia
before they flower
them into small pieces because if not cut into small pieces they can re-germinate
a basal dressing, place 2 double handfuls (400g) of freshly chopped leaves
and soft twigs in each planting hole for tomato, about 2 weeks before
- As a top dressing fertiliser, 2 double handfuls
of chopped Tithonia are applied 2
weeks after germination. Apply at the base of the tomato plants.
The recommendations in this factsheet are relevant to:
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