7 May 2018
Organic agriculture is becoming increasingly important, and many natural products are now available for organic farmers to manage and improve their crops. Several ethnobotanical studies have indicated that the use of nettle slurry as fertilizer in organic farming for horticultural crops is spreading. Sometimes, however, the consequences of using these natural products have been poorly evaluated, and there is very little scientific evidence for the effects of using these slurries. In this study, we aimed to analyze the possible effect of nettle slurry on potato yields produced by organic farming. To achieve this main objective, we assessed the effect of nettle slurry on potato yields, plant size and growth parameters, chlorophyll content, and the presence of pests and diseases. Different slurry doses were assessed in 36 plots and nine variables were measured during the crop cycle. Under these field experimental conditions, nettle slurry (including one treatment with Urtica in combination with Equisetum) had no significant effects on yield, chlorophyll content, or the presence of pests and diseases in organic potato crops. The highest chlorophyll content was found in the double dose treatment, but the difference was not significant. This result, together with a small improvement in plant height with the double dose treatment, might indicate very slight crop enhancement which, under our experimental conditions, was not enough to improve yield. The Urtica and Equisetum slurry chemical analyses showed very low levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.