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The effect of manure on plant development and yield of the wild edible species Cichorium spinosum, Scolymus hispanicus and Sonchus oleraceus.
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1  University of Thessaly, Department of Agriculture, Crop Production and Rural Environment, Fytokou Street, 38446, Volos, Greece
Academic Editor: Martin Weih

Published: 31 October 2023 by MDPI in 2nd International Electronic Conference on Agriculture session Crop Production;

The Mediterranean basin is an abundant hotspot of native wild edible plants which have gained great interest for their commercial exploitation as alternative crops in terms of sustainability due to rich phytochemical profile and tremendous bioactive properties. At the experimental farm of the University of Thessaly during the period of May 2022 and July 2022 a field trial was conducted in order to evaluate the effect of manure on the morphological traits and yield of the three wild edible species, namely Scolymus hispanicus, Sonchus oleraceus and Cichorium spinosum. Seeds of species were sown in seed trays and young plants were transplanted to the field at the stage of 3-4 fully developed leaves. For the execution of the experiment, two treatments (manure and control) were tested, while each treatment included three plots with a size of 8 m2 (4 x 2 m, n=3). Twenty plants per wild edible plant were transplanted in each plot with distances of 0.40 cm between the rows and 0.30 cm within each row. For the manure treatment, 40 kg/plot of manure were added directly in soil and incorporated with a tiller, whereas in the control treatment no manure was added. The cholorophyll content of leaves (SPAD values) and the diameter of the plants’ rosettes were evaluated during the growing period. Plants were harvested when fully developed and prior to anthesis and morphological traits were determined, namely the weight of plant (g), the number of leaves/plant, the weight of leaves/plant (g), the leaf area index (cm2), specific leaf area (m2/kg) and the dry matter of leaves (%). The experiment was carried out according to a Completely Randomized Design with three replications (n=3) per treatment. All data were checked for normal distribution according to the Shaphiro-Wilk test and mean values were compared according to the Tukey’s test at p=0,05, whereas the statistical analysis was performed with the software with JMP v. 16.1 (SAS Institute Inc.). Based on the current findings, the application of manure had a significant positive impact on the tested yield parameters namely the weight of plant, the number of leaves, and the weight of leaves/plant for all the studied species, whereas significant statistical differences were also observed regarding the chlorophyll content of leaves, the diameter of plant, the leaf area index and specific leaf area compared to the control treatment. In conclusion, the manure application could be a useful cultivation practice to improve yield characteristics and the overall growth development of the tested plants, which could be implement by the farmers in a sustainable point of view, especially in small-scale farms that are the backbone of crop production in the broader Mediterranean area; however, further studies are needed to be carried to define the optimum cultivation practices for the commercial cultivation of these species, while more analyses are need to study the effect of this practice on the chemical composition, the nutritional value and the bioactive properties of these wild edible species.

Keywords: Wild edible plants; Growth parameters; Soil amendment; Sustainable agriculture; Small-scale-farms