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PeerJ. 2016 Dec 15;4:e2752. eCollection 2016.

In situ earthworm breeding in orchards significantly improves the growth, quality and yield of papaya (Carica papaya L.).

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College of Natural Resources and Environment, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou, China; Guangdong Provincial Engineering Technology Research Center of Modern Eco-agriculture and Circular Agriculture, Guangzhou, China; Key Laboratory of Agro-environment in the Tropics, Ministry of Agriculture, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou, China.


The aim of this study was to compare the effects of four fertilizer applications-control (C), chemical fertilizer (F), compost (O), and in situ earthworm breeding (E)-on the growth, quality and yield of papaya (Carica papaya L.). In this study, 5 g plant-1 urea (CH4N2O, %N = 46.3%) and 100 g plant-1 microelement fertilizer was applied to each treatment. The fertilizer applications of these four treatments are different from each other. The results showed that the E treatment had the highest growth parameters over the whole growth period. At 127 days after transplantation, the order of plant heights from greatest to smallest was E > F > O > C, and the stem diameters were E > F > O > C, with significant differences between all treatments. Soluble-solid, sugar, vitamin C, and protein content significantly increased in the E treatment. In addition, the total acid and the electrical conductivity of the fruit significantly decreased in the E treatment. Fruit firmness clearly increased in the O treatment, and decreased in the F treatment. The fresh individual fruit weights, fruit numbers, and total yields were greatly improved in the F and E treatments, and the total yield of the E treatment was higher than that in the F treatment. In conclusion, the in situ earthworm breeding treatment performed better than conventional compost and chemical fertilizer treatments. Furthermore, in situ earthworm breeding may be a potential organic fertilizer application in orchards because it not only improves the fruit quality and yield but also reduces the amount of organic wastes from agriculture as a result of the activities of earthworms.


Earthworm in situ breeding; Fruits quality; Papaya; Plant growth; Total yield

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare there are no competing interests.

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