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Open Access Water use and grain yield response of rainfed soybean to tillage-mulch practices in southeastern Nigeria

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Despite the agronomic, economic and food values of soybean (Glycine max L. Merrill), there is still dearth of information on the tillage need and the implications of surface mulch for the crop in the eastern part of the forest-savanna transition zone of Nigeria. This study was therefore carried out on a sandy loam Ultisol at Nsukka with a sub-humid climate, during 2006 and 2007 cropping seasons. Our objective was to devise an appropriate tillage method for the crop from evaluated effects of no-till (NT), conventional tillage (CT) and mulch on selected key agronomic indices. Each of the NT and the CT was either unmulched (U) or mulched (M) in a split-plot, giving four treatments/tillage methods (NTU, NTM, CTU and CTM) randomized in four blocks. Rainfall was more favorable in the first than in the second season. The mean seasonal soil water storage (range, 99-109 mm) within 0.5-m soil layer differed among the treatments (NTU &60; CTU &60; NTM &61; CTM). However, for the first and second seasons, both water use (582-616 and 667-709 mm respectively) and grain yield (0.71-0.81 and 1.22-1.91 Mg ha-1 respectively) were not different. Mulch lowered the crop water use but had no influence on grain yield. Water use efficiency was enhanced with mulch only in the second season. Although either of the two mulch treatments (NTM/CTM) would be suitable for growing soybean especially in years of unfavorably distributed rainfall, NTM is a more rational choice than CTM. Rainfall adequacy at the critical reproductive stage of the crop showed to be a more important yield factor than the tested tillage methods.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2011

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