Interactive effects of selected nutrient resources and tied-ridging on plant growth performance in a semi-arid smallholder farming environment in central Zimbabwe
Source: Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, Volume 88, Number 1, September 2010 , pp. 103-109(7)
Abstract:Crop production in sub-Saharan Africa is constrained by numerous factors including frequent droughts and periods of moisture stress, low soil fertility, and restricted access to mineral fertilisers. A 2 year (2005/6 and 2006/7) field study was conducted in Shurugwi district, central Zimbabwe, to determine the effects of different nutrient resources and two tillage practices on the grain yield of maize (Zea mays L.) and soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr). Six nutrient resource treatments (control, pit-stored manure, leaf litter, anthill soil, mineral fertiliser, mineral fertiliser plus pit-stored manure) were combined with two tillage practices (conventional tillage and post-emergence tied ridging). Basal fertilisation was done with 0 kg ha−1 as control, 240 kg ha−1 PKS fertiliser, 18 t ha−1 manure, 10 t ha−1 manure plus 240 kg ha−1 PKS fertiliser, 35 t ha−1 leaf litter, 52 t ha−1 anthill soil. About 60 kg N/ha was applied to fertiliser only and fertiliser plus manure treatments as top dressing in the form of ammonium nitrate (34.5%N). A split-plot design was used with nutrient resource as the main plot and tillage practice as the subplot, and five farmers' fields were used as replicates. Grain yield was determined at physiological maturity (140 and 126 days after planting for maize and soybean, respectively) and adjusted to 12.5% moisture content for maize and 11% for soybean. In the first season (2005/06), addition of different nutrient resources under conventional tillage increased (P < 0.05) maize grain yield by 102-450%, with leaf litter and manure plus fertiliser treatments, giving the lowest (551 kg ha−1) and highest (3,032 kg ha−1) increments, respectively, compared to the control. For each treatment, tied-ridging further increased maize grain yield. For example, for leaf litter, tied-ridging further increased grain yield by 96% indicating the importance of integrating nutrient and water management practices in semi-arid areas where moisture stress is frequent. Despite the low rainfall and extended dry spells in the second season, addition of the different nutrient resources still increased yield which was further increased by tied-ridging in most treatments. Besides providing grain, soybean had higher residual effects on the following maize crop compared to Crotalaria gramiana, a green manure. It was concluded that the highest benefits of tied-ridging, in terms of grain yield, were realised when cattle manure was combined with mineral fertiliser, both of which are available to resource-endowed households. Besides marginally increasing yield, leaf litter and anthill which represent resources that can be accessed by very poor households, have a positive effect of the soil chemical environment.
Document Type: Research article
Affiliations: 1: Department of Soil Science & Agricultural Engineering, University of Zimbabwe, P.O. Box MP167, Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe, Email: email@example.com 2: Department of Soil Science & Agricultural Engineering, University of Zimbabwe, P.O. Box MP167, Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe
Publication date: 2010-09-01