Cumulative effects of reduced tillage and mulching on soil properties under semi-arid conditions

Mupangwa, W and Twomlow, S J and Walker, T S (2013) Cumulative effects of reduced tillage and mulching on soil properties under semi-arid conditions. Journal of Arid Environments, 91. pp. 45-52. ISSN 0140-1963

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Declining soil productivity is one of the greatest challenges facing smallholder agriculture. This study assessed effects of reduced tillage and mulching on soil organic carbon, bulk density, infiltration and maize yield. Treatments consisted of three tillage methods (conventional ploughing, ripping and planting basins) combined factorially with mulch levels (0, 0.5, 1, 2, 4, 8 and 10 t ha−1). The experiment was run for four growing seasons allowing for a rotation of maize, cowpea and sorghum in some of the fields. A new experimental field was opened each year and maintained in subsequent seasons until the end of the experiment. Soil organic carbon increased with time in all tillage systems and more SOC gained in planting basins. Soil bulk density decreased with time in all tillage systems irrespective of mulch quantity applied. Ripping loosened the soil much deeper than the other tillage methods. Total infiltration in all treatments was similar over the four seasons. Soil structural changes resulted in increased unsaturated hydraulic conductivity and sorptivity of the clay loam soil. Maize yield increased with time in all treatments. Long term studies need to be conducted to substantiate the results on soil property and crop yield improvements observed in the reported study

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bulk density; Conservation agriculture; Hydraulic conductivity; Infiltration; Maize yield; Sorptivity
Subjects: Others > Soil Science
Depositing User: Ms K Syamalamba
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2014 08:35
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2014 08:35
Official URL:
Projects: Challenge Program Project 17 (Integrated Water Resource Management for Improved Rural Livelihoods: Managing risk, mitigating drought and improving water productivity in the water scarce Limpopo Basin)
Funders: WaterNet
Acknowledgement: Authors are grateful to the ICRISAT field (Getrude Mpofu, Beckimpilo Ncube and Thulani Ndlovu) and laboratory (Murairo Madzvamuse, Jethro Ndlovu and Mthokozisi Moyo) staff for assisting in data collection and soil analysis
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