Effects of organic and biological fertilizers on fruit yield and essential oil of sweet fennel (Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce)
In order to evaluate the effects of different organic and biological fertilizers on quantity and quality of fennel essential oil, an experiment was conducted in a completely randomized block design with three replications. The experimental treatments included two organic (compost and vermicompost) and two biological (Pseudomonas putida and Azotobacter chroococcum) fertilizers, their all twin combinations (Ps. putida + A. chroococcum, Ps. putida + compost, Ps. putida + vermicompost, A. chroococcum + compost, A. chroococcum + vermicompost and compost + vermicompost) and control (non fertilized). There were significant differences between treatments in terms of seed essential oil percentage, essential oil yield; anethole, fenchone, limonene and stragole content in seed essential oil. Results showed that the highest and the lowest percentages of essential oil were obtained in control (2.9%) and A. chroococcum + vermicompost (2.2%) treatments, respectively. The highest essential oil yield (29.9 L ha–1) and anethole content of essential oil (69.7%) and the lowest contents of fenchone (6.14%), limonene (4.84%) and estragole (2.78%) in essential oil were obtained in compost + vermicompost treatment. It seems that compost + vermicompost treatment compared to other treatments supplied the highest equilibrium of nutrients and water in the root zone of sweet fennel which is led to increasing the anethole content, there upon, decreasing other compounds. Essential oil yield and percentage of anethole content in essential oil were significantly higher in all organic and biological treatments compared with control.