Effect of Coloured Agro-Net Covers on Insect Pest Control and Yield of Tomato (Solanum lycopersicon Mill)

  •  Langàt Jelagat Caroline    
  •  Mwanarusi Saidi    
  •  Arnold Opiyo    


Tomato (Solanum lycopersicon Mill) is one of the most important vegetable crops consumed throughout the world; and is rich in important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Production of the crop in open fields is however constrained by several biotic and abiotic stresses that lead to low tomato yields and quality. This study aimed at determining the effects of coloured agro-net covers on microclimate, pest infestation and yield of tomato cultivar ‘‘Rio Grande’’. The study consisted of two trials conducted using a randomized complete block design (RCBD) with five replications and six treatments. Tomato plants were grown under blue, yellow, grey, white or multi-coloured net covers with a no net cover as the control. Data were collected on microclimate (temperature, soil moisture, relative humidity and photosynthetically active radiation), pest counts and crop yield variables. Net covering modified the tomato crop microclimate with highest temperatures and soil moisture and, relative humidity levels recorded under white (21.03 oC), blue (30.03%) and multi-coloured net covers (76.26%), respectively compared to the no net control treatment (16.32 oC, 14.82% and 64.90%). Photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) was lowest under the blue agro-net cover (416.09 µmol m-2 s-1) and highest under control treatment (985.00 µmol m-2 s-1). Tomato plants grown under coloured-colour nets (yellow and blue) had lower population of silverleaf whitefly, thrips and aphids while mite population was lower under neutral-colour net covers (white, grey and multi-coloured). The neutral-colour net covers (24938.87, 19525.16 and 21541.93 kg/ha) resulted in higher yields compared to coloured-colour net covers (16804.62 and 14551.05 kg/ha). Results of the study indicate that use of agro-net covers especially the neutral-colour net cover can improve microclimate, protect tomato against insect pests and can be considered a viable strategy for tomato production by smallholder growers.

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