Effects of maize residue and mineral nitrogen applications on maize yield in conservation-agriculture-based cropping systems of Southern Africa

Mupangwa, W and Thierfelder, C and Cheesman, S and Nyagumbo, I and Muoni, T and Mhlanga, B and Mwila, M and Sida, T S and Ngwira, A R (2019) Effects of maize residue and mineral nitrogen applications on maize yield in conservation-agriculture-based cropping systems of Southern Africa. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems (TSI). pp. 1-14. ISSN 1742-1705

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Conservation agriculture (CA) and no-till (NT)-based cropping systems could address soil degradation and fertility decline in southern Africa. A multi-location and multi-year experiment was carried out between 2008 and 2014 to assess the effects of different levels of maize residue biomass (0, 2, 4, 6 and 8 t ha−1) and nitrogen (N) fertilizer (0, 30, 90 kg ha−1) on maize performance under no-tillage. In some sites, different (N) fertilizer levels were superimposed to test their effects on maize grain yield and leaf chlorophyll content under different maize residue biomass levels. The different residue levels had no significant effect on maize yield in most growing seasons. Maize residue cover increased grain yield in eight out of 39 site-years across the sites used. However, in some sites, maize yield decreased with increases in residue level in cropping seasons that had average to above average rainfall. At a few sites maize yield increased with increase in residue level. Seasonal rainfall pattern influenced the effect of different residue levels on grain yield at most sites. Nitrogen fertilizer increased maize yield regardless of the residue level applied. This study demonstrates that mulching with maize residues in CA/NT systems results in limited maize yield gains – at least within the first 6 years in different agro-ecological conditions of southern Africa.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Research Program : East & Southern Africa
CRP: CGIAR Research Program on Maize
Uncontrolled Keywords: Chlorophyll; crop–livestock interaction; immobilization; residue retention; sustainable intensification; Conservation agriculture; southern Africa; Maize residue
Subjects: Others > Cropping and Farming Systems
Others > Maize
Others > African Agriculture
Depositing User: Mr Ramesh K
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2019 03:23
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2020 03:05
URI: http://oar.icrisat.org/id/eprint/11054
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S174217051900005X
Projects: CA systems in southern Africa
Funders: International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD)
Acknowledgement: This long-term study was financially supported by the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) through a long-term study on CA systems in southern Africa. We are grateful for this significant contribution. This study has been embedded into the CGIAR Research Program MAIZE, Flagship Sustainable intensification of smallholder farming systems. We acknowledge the CGIAR Fund Council, Australia (ACIAR), Irish Aid, European Union, International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, UK, USAID and Thailand for funding to the CGIAR Research Program MAIZE. We thank numerous researchers and field workers from the four countries for their contribution to the study.
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