Maize also referred to as corn or Indian corn in the United States and Great Britain respectively is a cereal plant of the Gramineae family of grasses that today constitutes the most widely distributed food plant in the world. However, little of this maize is consumed directly by humans: most is used for corn ethanol, animal feed and other maize products , such as corn starch and corn syrup. The food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) also maintained that each part of maize which are the cob, stalk, silk, and leaves are of economic value and the kernel being the most useful. Hence, maize is a universal crop species.
Shell British Petroleum (Now Royal Dutch Shell) discovered crude oil at Oloibiri village in Bayelsa in 1956, in Niger Delta, Nigeria and commercial production began in 1958 (Nwilo and Badejo, 2005). Today there are 606 oil fields in the Niger Delta of which 360 are onshore and 246 offshore. Nigeria is now the largest oil producer in Africa and the 6th largest in the world producing at least 2.45million barrels per day (bbl/d) (Adati, 2012). Since in the 1980’s oil has been an important part of Nigeria’s economy; the increasing demand for crude oil and petroleum products has force man to exploit all possible sources of petroleum including land and water and this has contributed to the increase in the rate of occurrence of oil pollution in the world at large by oil spillage. Despite the numerous advantages accruing from the petroleum industries, there are serious environmental and social problems associated with crude oil exploration and pollution which is the presence of chemical substances produced by man’s activities which can cause harm to man is the primary negative impact of crude oil exploration and exploitation. Pollution problem ranges from water to land and air pollution. There are series of crude oil spills in the crude oil exploration and exploitation areas including the Niger Delta of Nigeria (Awobajo, 1981; Benka and Ekundajo 1995; Ekundajo and Obuekwe, 1997). Most people living in the oil producing areas suffer from the effect of oil drilling from the petroleum industries as a result of oil spillage. This is because the effect of oil spills are very visible and very devastating. Oil spillage destroys farmlands, pollute drinkable water and causes drawbacks in fishing of coastal waters. It is therefore important to greatly examine the environmental impact of oil spillage in the Niger Delta Region (Lawal and Ese, 2011).
Human activities and those of oil exploration and exploitation raise a number of issues such as depletion of biodiversity, coastal and riverbank erosion, flooding, oil spillage, gas flaring, noise pollution, sewage and wastewater pollution, land degradation and soil fertility loss and deforestation, which are all major environmental issues. The Niger Delta region has emerged as one of the most ecologically sensitive regions in Nigeria. Oil and gas from the region are the main source of revenue for the Nigerian state, accounting for about 97% of the country’s total export. Since the discovery of oil in the region, oil has dominated the country’s economy. The Niger Delta is highly susceptible to adverse environmental changes, occasioned by climate changes because it is located in the coastal region. Conclusive reports have stated that due to oil exploration and exploitation activities, the area has become an ecological wasteland. Various activities in crude oil exploration, exploitation, storage and transportation lead to spillage of oil to the environment (Nicolloti and Eglis, 1998). The spilled oil pollutes soils and the soils to be less useful for agricultural activities with soil dependent organisms being adversely affected (Baker, 1970; Mackay, 1991; Gelowitz, 1995; Siddiqui and Adams, 2002; Lundstedt, 2003).
The effects of crude oil on the performance of maize have been reported in many researches. These effects have been observed to occur due to the interference of the plant uptake of nutrients by crude oil and the unfavourable soil conditions due to pollution with crude oil (Plice, 1948; Gudin and Syratt, 1975; McGill and Rowell, 1977). It has been reported that plants and soil microbes compete for the little nutrient available in soils that are not rich like that polluted with crude oil thereby suppressing the growth of plants in such soils.
The main objective of this study was to determine growth and performance of maize (Zea mays L) grown in crude oil simulated soil amended with Urea in Obio AKPA. In specific terms, the study seek to:
- to evaluate the effect of crude oil pollution on soil characteristics and performance of maize.
- to determine the proximate composition of maize in crude oil soil.
This study will inform stakeholders in Agriculture, Government, Student and Lecturers on the effect of crude oil simulated soil in the reduction of growth and performance of maize. It will also established varietal differences in maize with response to crude oil contaminated soil thereby providing a basis for future study by plant breeders.