Comparison of Growth Indices of Nigella sativa L. under Different Plant Densities and Fertilization
Agronomic practices such as plant density and fertilizer management are referred to comprise crop environment, which influences plant growth, productivity, and ultimately the yield. The objective of the current study was to evaluate the influence of plant density and fertilization on the growth and growth indices of Nigella sativa crop and to determine the association between yield and growth characteristics at both the single plant and crop stand level. The 2-year experiment was laid out in a split-plot design, with three replications, two main plots (200 and 300 plants m-2) and four sub-plots (fertilization treatments: control, compost, farmyard manure and inorganic fertilizer). The highest absolute growth rate (AGR) (0.0321 g day-1) and relative growth rate (RGR) (0.0714 g g-1 day-1) values were recorded when plants subjected to low-density and inorganic fertilization, while the highest crop growth rate (CGR) (8.0342 g m-2 day-1) was obtained under high-plant density and inorganic fertilization. Concerning specific leaf area (SLA), the highest value (196.28 cm2 g-1) was found in inorganic fertilized treatment. Leaf area index (LAI), Leaf area duration (LAD) and Biomass duration (BMD) were positively affected by both plant density and fertilization with the greatest values observed under high-density and fertilization. In conclusion, plant densities higher than 200 plants m-2 lead to higher crop growth, but lower growth of individual plants and decreased seed yield, while the application of inorganic fertilizers increases crop growth and yield as these fertilizers contain higher levels of nitrogen with high solubility and therefore quick availability for the crop than the organic fertilizers.