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Challenges of conservation agriculture to increase maize yield in vulnerable production systems in central Mozambique

By: Famba, S.I.
Contributor(s): Loiskandl, W [coaut.] | Wall, P [coaut.] | Thierfelder, C [coaut.].
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookAnalytics: Show analyticsPublisher: African Crop Science Society : 2011Description: p. 173.Subject(s): Animal Traction Seeding | Mini-rainfall Simulation | Termite Activity | Conservation agricultureSummary: Smallholder farming under rainfed low input crop production in central Mozambique is characterized by decline in soil fertility, low yields and risks of crop failure. Many rural households therefore face food insecurity. To revert this situation, conservation agriculture (CA) based on minimum soil disturbance, crop residue retention and crop rotations has been promoted in the region since the late 1990s. This study presents the results of a CA long term trial (LTT) initiated in the year 2006 at Sussundenga Research Station (central Mozambique). The trial monitors and evaluates the effects over time of CA practices on crop yield, soil quality, weeds, pests and diseases. The LTT is designed as a completely randomized block with four replications: one conventional tilled treatment with sole maize (Zea mays L.), using the mouldboard plough and residue removal and nine CA treatments with residue retention using different seeding technologies and crop rotations of maize with sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) and beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.). Apart from mouldboard ploughing three different seeding technologies are studied in the LTT: direct seeding with animal traction, manual planting basins and the jab planter. Local climate at Sussundenga is wet semi-arid, the soil type is a Haplic Lixisol (FAO soil classification system) with a sandy loam surface soil texture. This study presents the effects of CA on maize productivity, water infiltration and soil fauna activity under rainfed conditions with data from the cropping seasons 2008/09 and 2009/10. High termite activity in the area prevented the accumulation of crop residues in CA plots. Therefore, field results did not show significant differences in maize yield and soil fauna activity. Infiltration, measured by a mini-rainfall simulator, was significantly higher at probability level of 5% (16-30% higher) on CA plots where beans were previously planted in maize-sunflower-beans rotation compared to the conventional tilled treatment. This study did not show immediate benefits of CA for quick adoption by smallholder farmers. However, field observation suggest significant labour gains when fields are direct seeded instead of traditionally cultivated with the mouldboard plough. Further studies are recommended to assess the comparative economic advantage of applying CA to smallholder farmers.Collection: CIMMYT Staff Publications Collection
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Lic. Jose Juan Caballero Flores

 

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Abstract only

Smallholder farming under rainfed low input crop production in central Mozambique is characterized by decline in soil fertility, low yields and risks of crop failure. Many rural households therefore face food insecurity. To revert this situation, conservation agriculture (CA) based on minimum soil disturbance, crop residue retention and crop rotations has been promoted in the region since the late 1990s. This study presents the results of a CA long term trial (LTT) initiated in the year 2006 at Sussundenga Research Station (central Mozambique). The trial monitors and evaluates the effects over time of CA practices on crop yield, soil quality, weeds, pests and diseases. The LTT is designed as a completely randomized block with four replications: one conventional tilled treatment with sole maize (Zea mays L.), using the mouldboard plough and residue removal and nine CA treatments with residue retention using different seeding technologies and crop rotations of maize with sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) and beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.). Apart from mouldboard ploughing three different seeding technologies are studied in the LTT: direct seeding with animal traction, manual planting basins and the jab planter. Local climate at Sussundenga is wet semi-arid, the soil type is a Haplic Lixisol (FAO soil classification system) with a sandy loam surface soil texture. This study presents the effects of CA on maize productivity, water infiltration and soil fauna activity under rainfed conditions with data from the cropping seasons 2008/09 and 2009/10. High termite activity in the area prevented the accumulation of crop residues in CA plots. Therefore, field results did not show significant differences in maize yield and soil fauna activity. Infiltration, measured by a mini-rainfall simulator, was significantly higher at probability level of 5% (16-30% higher) on CA plots where beans were previously planted in maize-sunflower-beans rotation compared to the conventional tilled treatment. This study did not show immediate benefits of CA for quick adoption by smallholder farmers. However, field observation suggest significant labour gains when fields are direct seeded instead of traditionally cultivated with the mouldboard plough. Further studies are recommended to assess the comparative economic advantage of applying CA to smallholder farmers.

Conservation Agriculture Program

English

Lucia Segura

INT2939

CIMMYT Staff Publications Collection

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