The potential of using solarized cattle manure fertilizer and planting densities to cultivate the cactus Opuntia ficus-indica L.
Keywords:cladode yield, cladode length, electrical conductivity, nitrates, organic matter, pH.
Opuntia has been long cultivated for forage, as well as for human consumption. The objective
was to evaluate yield, thickness, length and width of cladodes of Opuntia while in the soil, pH,
electrical conductivity, organic matter and nitrates were evaluated. The experiment was
conducted during three years 2008, 2009 and 2010 through a completely randomized block
design with factorial arrangement with three replications. The factors were doses of organic
fertilizer (0, 20, 40, 60 t ha-1) and one inorganic fertilizer as control 100-100-0 kg ha-1 of N, P
and K, respectively and planting densities (4,435, 8,871, 8,887 and 13,323 plants ha-1) with
different topological arrangements. The results showed greatest yield at 60 t ha-1 in 2009 and
2010. In 2008, yield was greater at 60 t ha-1 but was not significantly greater than 40 t ha-1,
however was greatest than control. All plant variables were greatest at 60 t ha-1, although in
some cases not significantly different from other dosages. For all 3 years, pH, electrical
conductivity, organic matter and nitrate content at 60 t ha-1 and 13,323 plants ha-1 were
unacceptable ranges and were not significantly worse than inorganic fertilizer, dosages or
planting densities. In conclusion, organic fertilizer is an option to avoid use of non-organic
fertilizers in order to improve Opuntia production as well as maintaining soil quality.