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Measuring and simulating maize (Zea mays L.) yield responses to reduced tillage and mulching under semi-arid conditions

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DOI: 10.4236/as.2011.23023    5,631 Downloads   11,470 Views   Citations

ABSTRACT

Rainfed smallholder agriculture in semi-arid environments of sub-Saharan Africa faces many challenges. Productivity of the smallholder agricultural systems has been on the decline in recent years. Conservation agriculture practices have a potential of steering the smallholder agricultural systems of sub-Saharan Africa to greater and more sustainable levels. This study was designed to calibrate the APSIM model so that it could be used as a tool for understanding the long term impact of conservation agriculture techniques (mulching, tine ripping and planting basins) on the productivity of smallholder systems under semi-arid conditions. The APSIM model predicted reasonably well the seasonal and mulching effects on maize production on sand and clay soils. Under these semi-arid conditions the use of 10 kg.N.ha–1 is preferable under both conventional and basin tillage systems. Planting basins offer a better chance of getting maize grain yield than the conventional system in southern Zimbabwe at N quantities ranging from 0 kg.ha–1 to 52 kg.ha–1. This modelling exercise suggested that smallholder farmers are still prone to complete crop failure in some years despite the use of available conservation agriculture systems.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Mupangwa, W. , Dimes, J. , Walker, S. and Twomlow, S. (2011) Measuring and simulating maize (Zea mays L.) yield responses to reduced tillage and mulching under semi-arid conditions. Agricultural Sciences, 2, 167-174. doi: 10.4236/as.2011.23023.

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