Effects of vegetative mulches on growth of indigenous crops in the Kingdom of Tonga

Manu, V and Whitbread, A M and Blair, G (2018) Effects of vegetative mulches on growth of indigenous crops in the Kingdom of Tonga. Soil Use and Management (TSI). pp. 1-7. ISSN 1475-2743

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As in many areas of the developing world, intensification of agriculture in Tonga, and other Pacific Islands, has put increased pressure on the soil resource. Two experiments were conducted to evaluate the effect of mulch on the growth and yield of two important food and fibre crops. The first was conducted on sloping land to evaluate the effect of guinea grass (Megathyrsus maximus) mulch and hedgerows on taro [Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott] yield, and in controlling soil erosion. The second compared the response of paper mulberry [Broussonetia papyrifera (L) Ventenot] to different management regimes of a grass fallow. Thick vegetative mulch increased taro corm yield by 81% and reduced soil loss by 50% compared to local farmer practice, and the soil loss from taro with mulch was comparable to the perennial cash hedgerow treatment. Mulch increased paper mulberry bark yield by 30% compared to the non-mulch control. Comparative economic analysis showed that increased net profit in the mulched treatments compared to the non-mulched control was T$2660/ha for taro and T$12 108/ha for paper mulberry. Considering that mulch is readily available to many farmers throughout the Pacific Islands and elsewhere in the tropics, it is recommended as a sustainable practice for crop production.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Research Program : Innovation Systems for the Drylands (ISD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Land use, mulching, soil erosion, land use, soil use and management
Subjects: Others > Soil Fertility
Others > Soil
Depositing User: Mr Ramesh K
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2018 09:06
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2018 10:42
URI: http://oar.icrisat.org/id/eprint/10407
Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/sum.12398
Acknowledgement: The financial support for this study came from an Overseas Postgraduate Research Scholarship from the University of New England and the Tongan Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and various collaborative projects with ACIAR, FAO and IBSRAM organisations. The technical assistance of Leanne Lisle and Judy Kenny of the Department of Agronomy and Soil Science and the tireless teamwork provided by the members of the Plant Nutrition, Soil and Water Section of the MAF Research and Extension Division, Tonga in soil sampling and field experimentation is gratefully acknowledged.
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