Exploring phosphorus, mucuna (Mucuna pruriens)and nitrogen management options for sustainable maize production in a depleted kaolinitic sandy loam soil of Zimbabwe

Shoko, Munashe (2009-12)

Thesis (PhD(Agric) (Agronomy))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Continuous cropping without replenishing the nutrient component of soils will eventually lead to the depletion of soil nutrients. Small scale farmers in Zimbabwe often do not have the financial means to buy fertilizer and this problem is exacerbated by scarcity of commodities such as fertilizers. The use of herbaceous legumes such as mucuna (Mucuna pruriens) can assist to recapitalize soil fertility depletion and improve subsequent maize productivity in sandy loam soils in the small holder farming sector of Zimbabwe. In this study the effect of phosphorus (P) application to a mucuna crop, the effect of mucuna management options and the application of nitrogen (N) to the subsequent maize crop was investigated. The experiment was carried out during the 2007 to 2009 seasons at the Grasslands Research Station in Marondera in Zimbabwe. The soils are classified as humic ferrolsols and are predominantly of the kaolinitic order with sandy loams of low fertility and are slightly acid (pH CaCl = 5.2). A randomized complete block design was used for the effect of P on mucuna productivity and the effect of P and mucuna management options on the soil properties. The treatments were two P rates (P0 and P40 = 0 kg P ha-1 and 40 kg P ha-1 respectively) applied to a preceding mucuna crop, four mucuna management options [1) fallow (F) (no mucuna planted = control), 2) mucuna ploughed-in at flowering (MF), 3) all mucuna above ground biomass removed at maturity and only roots were ploughed-in (MAR) and 4) mucuna pods removed and the residues ploughed-in (MPR)]. A split-plot design was used to study the effect of P application to mucuna, mucuna management options and N rates on the growth and yield of the subsequent maize crop. The four N treatments [N0 = 0 kg N ha-1, N40 = 40 kg N ha-1, N80 = 80 kg N ha-1 and iv N120 = 120 kg N ha-1] were applied to a subsequent maize crop. Growth and development parameters such as biomass production, leaf area index, nutrient content of the foliage and grain yield were determined in the mucuna and maize crops. Soil parameters investigated included nutrient content, pH, bulk density and porosity. Phosphorus application in these particular soil conditions positively influenced mucuna biomass production and therefore enhanced the role of mucuna as a rotational crop by increased positive effects on the subsequent maize crop. The incorporation of above-ground biomass of mucuna had positive effects on all soil properties investigated. The MF and MPR management options increased the soil organic matter (OM) and reduced bulk density which leads to an improvement in porosity (f) of the soil. Mucuna incorporated at flowering (MF) and P40 treatment combination resulted in the highest mineral N, P, potassium (K), calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) levels. A significant three-way interaction (P<0.05) between mucuna management options, nitrogen rates and time was observed in terms of biomass production and all nutrients in the leaves of the subsequent maize crop. The main findings were that the MF management option had the highest biomass and foliar nutrient accumulation through-out all the treatment combinations. In general the MF management option gave the highest maize yield across all the treatment combinations. Incorporation of mucuna biomass into the soil prior to planting a maize crop therefore improve soil physical and chemical qualities resulting in improved soil conditions for a subsequent maize crop which in turn lead to higher maize yields. Including a mucuna rotational crop have a similar effect on maize yield than application of 80 kg ha-1 of fertilizer N.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Aanhoudende verbouing van gewasse op dieselfde grond sonder om voedingstowwe aan te vul lei uiteindelik tot die agteruitgang van die grond se vrugbaarheid. Kleinboere in Zimbabwe het meestal nie die finansiële vermoëns om bemestingstowwe te koop nie en die probleem word vererger deur die onbekombaarheid van kommoditeite soos bemestingstowwe. Die gebruik van kruidagtige peulplant gewasse soos mucuna (Mucuna pruriens) kan bydra om grondverarming teen te werk en om die produksie van ‗n daaropvolgende mielie aanplanting in sandleemgronde in ‗n kleinboerstelsel in Zimbabwe te verhoog. In hierdie studie is die invloed van fosfor (P) toediening aan ‗n mucuna aanplanting, die invloed van bestuursopsies van die mucuna en die toediening van stikstof (N) aan die daaropvolgende mielie aanplanting ondersoek. Die eksperiment is tydens die 2007 tot 2009 reënseisoen by die Grasslands Research Station in Marondera in Zimbabwe uitgevoer. Die grond word geklassifiseer as humiese ferrolsols en is hoofsaaklik sanderige leemgrond van die kaolinitiese orde met lae vrugbaarheid en is effens suur (pH CaCl = 5.2). ‘n Volledig ewekansige blokontwerp is gebruik om die invloed van P op die produktiwiteit van mucuna te bepaal asook die invloed van P toediening en mucuna bestuursopsies op grondeienskappe. Die behandelings was twee P vlakke (P0 = 0 kg P ha-1 en P40 = 40 kg P ha-1) wat aan ‗n voorafgaande mucuna aanplanting toegedien is, vier mucuna bestuursopsies [1) braak (F) (geen mucuna geplant = kontrole), 2) mucuna ingeploeg met blomtyd (MF), 3) alle bogrondse mucuna biomassa verwyder by rypwording en slegs wortels ingewerk (MAR) en 4) mucuna peule verwyde en die res van die bogrondse material ingeploeg (MPR)] en vier N behandelings [N0 = 0 kg N ha-1, N40 = 40 kg N ha-1, N80 = 80 kg N ha-1 en N120 = 120 kg N ha-1] toegedien aan ‗n daaropvolgende mielie aanplanting. Groei en ontwikkeling parameters soos biomassa produksie, blaaroppervlakindeks, nutriëntinhoud van die blare en graanopbrengs is in die mucuna en mielie aanplantings ondersoek. Grondeienskappe soos nutriëntinhoud, pH, bulkdigtheid en porositeit is gemeet. Fosfaat toediening aan hierdie spesifieke grondtipe het mucuna produksie positief beïnvloed en dus die rol van mucuna as rotasiegewas verbeter deur positiewe reaksies in die daaropvolgende mielie aanplanting. Die inwerk van bogrondse mucuna biomassa het al die fisiese grondeienskappe wat ondersoek is positief beïnvloed. Die MF en MPR bestuursopsies het organiese materiaal inhoud van die grond verhoog en bulkdigtheid verlaag wat lei tot verbeterde grondporeusheid (f). Mucuna wat tydens blomvorming ingewerk is (MF) lei tot die hoogste minerale N, P, kalium (K), kalsium (Ca) en magnesium (Mg) vlakke. ‗n Betekenisvolle drie-rigting interaksie (P < 0.05) tussen mucuna bestuursopsies, N vlakke en tyd is waargeneem in terme van biomassa produksie en in terme van al die nutriëntvlakke in die mielieblare wat ondersoek is. Die hoofbevindinge was dat die MF bestuursopsie die hoogste biomassa produksie en blaarnutriënt akkumulasie oor alle behandelingskombinasies tot gevolg gehad het. In die algemeen het die MF bestuursopsie die hoogste mielie-opbrengs oor alle behandelingskombinasies tot gevolg gehad. Die inwerk van mucuna materiaal in die grond voordat mielies geplant word verbeter dus fisiese en chemiese toestande in die grond wat grondtoestande verbeter vir die daaropvolgende miegewas en uiteindelik lei tot hoër mielie-oeste. Die insluiting van mucuna as ‘n rotasiegewas het diesefde effek op mielie-opbrengs as die toediening van 80 kg ha-1 N bemesting.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/1364
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