Soil nutrient loss through erosion: Impact of different cropping systems and soil amendments in Ghana.
ABSTRACT: Soil erosion is a multifactor threat to crop production and the environment. Most studies on soil erosion characterization have not focused on soil nutrient loss associated with erosion. The aim of this study was therefore to quantify the magnitude of nutrient loss through soil erosion under different cropping systems and amendments to inform agronomic practices in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). A field experiment was carried out on runoff plots with different cropping systems (sole maize, sole cowpea, sole maize and maize intercropped with soybean) as main plots and soil amendments (biochar, NPK (Nitrogen +Phosphorus +Potassium) fertilizer, NPK + biochar and a control (no amendment)) constituting the subplots in a randomized complete block design. For each block, a bare plot was included to assess the efficiency of the different crop and soil management practices on soil erosion. The study was carried out in three consecutive cropping seasons in the semi-deciduous forest zone of Ghana. The bare plots had the highest amounts of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) eroded: 33.88, 12.35 and 12.75 kg ha-1 respectively followed by the control plots with magnitude of 20.43, 8.42 and 7.87 kg ha-1 respectively for N, P and K. Sole maize had the highest amounts of nutrient loss: 19.71, 8.12 and 7.27 for N, P and K respectively compared to all the other cropping systems where the losses varied respectively from 12.38 to 17.12, 6.67 to 7.49 and 5.81 to 6.75 kg ha-1 The legume-based cropping systems under inorganic fertilizer and biochar management effectively reduced nutrient loss more than all other treatment combinations. The off-site effect of soil erosion expressed as enrichment ratio (ER) was higher for all plots, which received inorganic fertilizer inputs varying from 1.93 to 3.06 while the other treatments had ERs of 1.51 to 2.03. The ERs of fine soil particles were greater than 1 (ranging from 1.14 to 3.6) being relatively higher than that of coarse particles (sand) with values below 1 (ranging from 0.62 to 0.88). The least cumulative monetary value of nutrient loss (30.82 US$ ha-1) was observed under cowpea cropping system which received NPK + BC treatment. Soil erosion affected directly soil nutrient depletion through nutrient loss; however, integrated soil fertility management associated with legume-based cropping systems can be alternative options to reducing its effects on croplands in SSA.
Project description:A field experiment was carried out to evaluate the effect of organic amendments on soil organic carbon, total nitrogen, bulk density, aggregate stability, field capacity and plant available water in a representative Chinese Mollisol. Four treatments were as follows: no fertilization (CK), application of inorganic fertilizer (NPK), combined application of inorganic fertilizer with maize straw (NPK+S) and addition of biochar with inorganic fertilizer (NPK+B). Our results showed that after three consecutive years of application, the values of soil bulk density were significantly lower in both organic amendment-treated plots than in unamended (CK and NPK) plots. Compared with NPK, NPK+B more effectively increased the contents of soil organic carbon, improved the relative proportion of soil macro-aggregates and mean weight diameter, and enhanced field capacity as well as plant available water. Organic amendments had no obvious effect on soil C/N ratio or wilting coefficient. The results of linear regression indicated that the improvement in soil water retention could be attributed to the increases in soil organic carbon and aggregate stability.
Project description:Among agricultural soil amendment that can enhance crop productivity and soil sustainability is biochar. Hence, two-year field experiments were conducted on a sandy loam Alfisol at Owo, southwest Nigeria, to evaluate the effects of biochar produced from hardwood on soil physical and chemical characteristics, erosion potential, and cocoyam (Xanthosoma sagittifolium (L.) Schott) yield. The study was a 2?×?4 factorial experiment with two years (2017 and 2018) and four biochar levels (0 (control), 10, 20, and 30?t ha-1). The treatments were laid out in a randomized complete block design with three replications. Results indicated that biochar application significantly in both years improved yield of cocoyam and soil physical (bulk density, porosity, moisture content, mean weight diameter (MWD) of soil aggregates, dispersion ratio, and infiltration rate) and chemical (soil organic matter, pH, N, P, K, Ca, Mg, and CEC) properties and erosion resistance. Soil characteristics and cocoyam yield improved with level of biochar from 0-30?t ha-1. When 2018 is compared with 2017 in term of soil loss, in the amended plots, 2018 reduced soil loss by 7.4, 20, and 73.5%, respectively, for 10, 20, and 30?t ha-1biochar, whereas there was an increase of 2.7% soil loss in the control plot in 2018 compared with 2017. Therefore, application rate of 30?t ha-1 biochar is considered as suitable for severely degraded soil because this application rate efficiently improves cocoyam yield and soil properties and reduces soil loss.
Project description:Yield and nutrient acquisition advantages are frequently found in intercropping systems. However, there are few published reports on soil fertility in intercropping relative to monocultures. A field experiment was therefore established in 2009 in Gansu province, northwest China. The treatments comprised maize/faba bean, maize/soybean, maize/chickpea and maize/turnip intercropping, and their correspoding monocropping. In 2011 (the 3rd year) and 2012 (the 4th year) the yields and some soil chemical properties and enzyme activities were examined after all crop species were harvested or at later growth stages. Both grain yields and nutrient acquisition were significantly greater in all four intercropping systems than corresponding monocropping over two years. Generally, soil organic matter (OM) did not differ significantly from monocropping but did increase in maize/chickpea in 2012 and maize/turnip in both years. Soil total N (TN) did not differ between intercropping and monocropping in either year with the sole exception of maize/faba bean intercropping receiving 80 kg P ha-1 in 2011. Intercropping significantly reduced soil Olsen-P only in 2012, soil exchangeable K in both years, soil cation exchangeable capacity (CEC) in 2012, and soil pH in 2012. In the majority of cases soil enzyme activities did not differ across all the cropping systems at different P application rates compared to monocrops, with the exception of soil acid phosphatase activity which was higher in maize/legume intercropping than in the corresponding monocrops at 40 kg ha-1 P in 2011. P fertilization can alleviate the decline in soil Olsen-P and in soil CEC to some extent. In summary, intercropping enhanced productivity and maintained the majority of soil fertility properties for at least three to four years, especially at suitable P application rates. The results indicate that maize-based intercropping may be an efficient cropping system for sustainable agriculture with carefully managed fertilizer inputs.
Project description:There are limited reports about the impacts of long-term cropping and land-use systems (CLUS) on soil properties and nutrient stocks under smallholder farmers' conditions in developing countries. The objective of this research was to examine variation in soil properties and OC and TN stocks across the different CLUS in Dura sub-catchment, northern Ethiopia. Surveys and discussions on field history were used to identify nine CLUS, namely, tef (Eragrostis tef (Zucc) Trot)) mono-cropping (TM), maize (Zea mays L.) mono-cropping (MM), cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis)-maize intercropping (IC1), red beet (Beta Vulgaris)-maize intercropping (IC2), cauliflower-tef-maize rotation (R1), onion (Allium cepa L.)-maize-onion rotation (R2), tr eated gully (TG), untreated gully (UTG), and natural forest system (NF). A total of 27 composite soil samples were randomly collected from the CLUS for soil analysis. Data were subjected to one-way analysis of variance and PCA. The lowest and highest bulk density was determined from NF (1.19 Mg m-3) and UTG (1.77 Mg m-3), respectively. Soil pH, EC and CEC varied significantly among the CLUS. The highest CEC (50.3 cmolc kg-1) was reported under TG followed by NF. The highest soil OC stock (175.3 Mg C ha-1) and TN stock (13.6 Mg C ha-1) were found from NF. The PCA chosen soil properties explained 87% of the soil quality variability among the CLUS. Such soil properties and nutrient stocks variability among the CLUS suggested that introduction of suitable management practices that sustain the soil system of the CLUS with poor soil properties and nutrient stocks are crucial for the study area conditions.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Loss of organic matter and mineral nutrients to soil erosion in rain-fed agriculture is a serious problem globally, especially in China's Loess Plateau. As a result, increasing rainwater usage efficiency by tied-ridge-furrow rainwater harvesting with biochar is expected to improve agricultural productivity. Nonetheless, with limited knowledge on tied-ridge-furrow rainwater harvesting with biochar, small-scale farmers face the challenge of adoption, thus, the rationale for this study.<h4>Materials and methods</h4>A field experiment was conducted to determine the influence of open-ridging (OR) and tied-ridging (TR) with bio-degradable film on ridges and biochar in furrows on runoff, sediment losses, soil moisture, fodder yield, and water use efficiency (WUE) on sloped land, using flat planting (FP) without ridges and furrows as control, during alfalfa-growing year (2020).<h4>Results</h4>Runoff in flat planting (30%), open ridging (45%), and tied ridging (52%) were decreased with biochar to the extent where sediment was decreased in flat planting (33%), open ridging (43%), and tied ridging (44%) as well. The mean runoff efficiency was lower in flat planting (31%), open ridging (45%), and tied ridging (50%) in biochar plots compared to no-biochar plots. In biochar and no-biochar plots, soil temperature on ridges of TR was higher than that on OR, which was higher than FP during alfalfa growing season. Soil temperature in furrows during alfalfa growing season in biochar and no-biochar plots were in the order FP > OR > TR. Mean soil water storage for FP, OR, and TR, in biochar plots was higher than in no-biochar plots. This indicates biochar has a beneficial impact on open riding. Total annual net fodder yield (NFY) was significantly (p = 0.00) higher in treatments in the order TR > OR > FP. Tied ridging had a significant effect on actual fodder yield (AFY) in biochar plots, while open ridging significantly affected AFY in no-biochar plots. Annual total mean NFY and AFY increased by 8% and 11% in biochar plots compared to no-biochar plots. In biochar and no-biochar plots, water use efficiency was in the order TR > OR > FP. Conclusively, water use efficiency was significantly higher (p = 0.01) in biochar plots compared to no-biochar plots.<h4>Conclusion</h4>When crop production is threatened by soil erosion and drought, mulched tied-ridge with biochar is beneficial to crop growth in rain-fed agriculture, according to this research. Smallholder farmers should be trained on applying this technique for water-saving to mitigate runoff, soil erosion, sediment losses, and improve food security in semiarid areas.
Project description:Background:Corn silage is an important feed for intense ruminant production, but the growth of corn relies heavily on the use of chemical fertilizers. Sustainable crop production requires careful management of all nutrient sources available on a farm, particularly in corn-based cropping systems. Methods:Experiments were conducted to determine the appropriate technique of corn-legume intercropping in conjunction with the supplemental use of chemical fertilizers, organic manure, and biofertilizers (BFs). Acetylene reduction assays (ARAs) were also performed on corn and soybean roots. Results:Combining chemical fertilizers with chicken manure (CM) in a 50:50 ratio and applying 50% NPK+50% CM+BF produced fresh forage and dry matter (DM) yields that were similar to those produced in the 100% nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K) treatment. Among the lone fertilizer treatments, the inorganic fertilizer (100% NPK) treatment produced the highest DM yield (13.86 t/ha) of forage and outyielded the 100% CM (9.74 t/ha) treatment. However, when CM was combined with NPK, the resulting DM yield of forage (13.86 t/ha) was the same as that resulting from 100% NPK (13.68 t/ha). Compared with CM applications alone, combinations of NPK and CM applications resulted in increased plant height, crop growth rates (CGRs) and leaf area index (LAI), but the values of these parameters were similar to those resulting from 100% NPK application. Fertilizers in which the ratio was 50% CM+50% NPK or 50% CM+50% NPK+BF resulted in protein yields that were similar to those resulting from conventional fertilizers. Similarly, the CP content did not significantly differ between applications of the 100% NPK and 50% CM+50% NPK fertilizers. The use of BFs had no significant impact on improving either the yield or quality of forage fertilized with inorganic or organic fertilizer. Lactic acid responded differently to different fertilizer applications and was significantly higher in the fertilized plots than in the unfertilized plots. Compared with treatments of lone chemical and lone organic manure fertilizers, treatments involving applications of BF and a combination of BF and NPK or CM resulted in higher ARA values. Discussion:There is no simple and easy approach to increase biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) in grain legumes grown as part of a cropping system under realistic farm field conditions. Overall, evidence recorded from this study proves that, compared with corn monocrops combined with CM and chemical fertilizers, corn-soybean intercrops could increase forage yields and quality, produce higher total protein yields, and reduce the need for protein supplements and chemical fertilizers.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Soil application of biochar and straw alone or their combinations with nitrogen (N) fertilizer are becoming increasingly common, but little is known about their agronomic and environmental performance in semiarid environments. This study was conducted to investigate the effect(s) of these amendments on soil properties, nitrous oxide (N<sub>2</sub>O) and methane (CH<sub>4</sub>) emissions and grain and biomass yield of spring wheat (<i>Triticum aestivum</i> L.), and to produce background dataset that may be used to inform nutrient management guidelines for semiarid environments.<h4>Methods</h4>The experiment involved the application of biochar, straw or urea (46% nitrogen [N]) alone or their combinations. The treatments were: CN<sub>0</sub>-control (zero-amendment), CN<sub>50</sub> -50 kg ha<sup>-1</sup> N, CN<sub>100</sub>-100 kg ha<sup>-1</sup> N, BN<sub>0</sub> -15 t ha<sup>-1</sup> biochar, BN<sub>50</sub>-15 t ha<sup>-1</sup> biochar + 50 kg ha<sup>-1</sup> N, BN<sub>100</sub>-15 t ha<sup>-1</sup> biochar + 100 kg ha<sup>-1</sup> N, SN<sub>0</sub> -4.5 t ha<sup>-1</sup> straw, SN<sub>50</sub> -4.5 t ha<sup>-1</sup> straw + 50 kg ha<sup>-1</sup> N and SN<sub>100</sub>-4.5 t ha<sup>-1</sup> straw + 100 kg ha<sup>-1</sup> N. Fluxes of N<sub>2</sub>O, CH<sub>4</sub> and grain yield were monitored over three consecutive cropping seasons between 2014 and 2016 using the static chamber-gas chromatography method.<h4>Results</h4>On average, BN<sub>100</sub>reported the highest grain yield (2054 kg ha<sup>-1</sup>), which was between 25.04% and 38.34% higher than all other treatments. In addition, biomass yield was much higher under biochar treated plots relative to the other treatments. These findings are supported by the increased in soil organic C by 17.14% and 21.65% in biochar amended soils (at 0-10 cm) compared to straw treated soils and soils without carbon respectively. The BN<sub>100</sub>treatment also improved bulk density and hydraulic properties (<i>P</i> < 0.05), which supported the above results. The greatest N<sub>2</sub>O emissions and CH<sub>4</sub> sink were recorded under the highest rate of N fertilization (100 kg N ha<sup>-1</sup>). Cumulative N<sub>2</sub>O emissions were 39.02% and 48.23% lower in BN<sub>100</sub> compared with CN<sub>0</sub> and CN<sub>100</sub>, respectively. There was also a ≈ 37.53% reduction in CH<sub>4</sub> uptake under BN<sub>100</sub>compared with CN<sub>0</sub>-control and CN<sub>50</sub>. The mean cumulative N<sub>2</sub>O emission from biochar treated soils had a significant decrease of 10.93% and 38.61% compared to straw treated soils and soils without carbon treatment, respectively. However, differences between mean cumulative N<sub>2</sub>O emission between straw treated soils and soils without carbon were not significant. These results indicate the dependency of crop yield, N<sub>2</sub>O and CH<sub>4</sub> emissions on soil quality and imply that crop productivity could be increased without compromising on environmental quality when biochar is applied in combination with N-fertilizer. The practice of applying biochar with N fertilizer at 100 kg ha<sup>-1</sup> N resulted in increases in crop productivity and reduced N<sub>2</sub>O and CH<sub>4</sub>soil emissions under dryland cropping systems.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Intercropping, a diversified planting pattern, increases land use efficiency and farmland ecological diversity. We explored the changes in soil physicochemical properties, nutrient uptake and utilization, and microbial community composition in wide-strip intercropping of maize and peanut.<h4>Results</h4>The results from three treatments, sole maize, sole peanut and intercropping of maize and peanut, showed that intercropped maize had a marginal advantage and that the nutrient content of roots, stems and grains in side-row maize was better than that in the middle row of intercropped maize and sole maize. The yield of intercropped maize was higher than that of sole cropping. The interaction between crops significantly increased soil peroxidase activity, and significantly decreased protease and dehydrogenase activities in intercropped maize and intercropped peanut. The diversity and richness of bacteria and fungi decreased in intercropped maize rhizosphere soil, whereas the richness of fungi increased intercropped peanut. RB41, Candidatus-udaeobacter, Stropharia, Fusarium and Penicillium were positively correlated with soil peroxidase activity, and negatively correlated with soil protease and dehydrogenase activities. In addition, intercropping enriched the functional diversity of the bacterial community and reduced pathogenic fungi.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Intercropping changed the composition and diversity of the bacterial and fungal communities in rhizosphere soil, enriched beneficial microbes, increased the nitrogen content of intercropped maize and provided a scientific basis for promoting intercropping in northeastern China.
Project description:Combining different cropping and tillage systems with different genotypes across several cropping seasons can reveal opportunities for sustainable intensification (SI). The objective of this study was to assess the performance of six maize genotypes under intercropping with conservation tillage (no-till) - two promising options for SI. The experiment was carried out over three years (or six cropping seasons) at Kiboko Research Station, Kenya with sole cropping and mouldboard ploughing as baseline production systems. Results showed that maize genotypes and cropping systems had a significant effect on yield, but the effect of tillage was not significant. Moreover, there was no significant interactive effects of the tested factors on maize yield. The maize genotype CKH10085 had the highest yield of 7.7?t ha-1 under sole cropping yet it also recorded the largest yield penalty due to intercropping of 1.1?t ha-1. On the other hand, genotype CKH10717 maintained the same average yield of 7.1?t ha-1 in both conventional and conservation tillage systems. The commercial genotype genotype CKH10080 and CKH08051 were more stable than the other experimental genotypes under the variable growing and management conditions. These two genotypes are of intermediate maturity and drought tolerance, two critical attributes to improved maize production. Intercropping reduced maize yields due to increased competition, for example the overall yield of sole cropping was 7.1?t ha-1 compared with 6.4?t ha-1 under intercropping; representing an overall yield penalty of 0.7?t ha-1. The differences in performance of maize genotypes revealed opportunities to deploy genotypes to reduce risk or maximize yield, depending on the biophysical circumstances and the production objective of the farmer.
Project description:Sustainability of maize-based cropping systems is a major challenge for southern Africa, yet the demand for maize as staple food and animal feed in the region continues to increase. A study was conducted on a sandy clay loam (220 g clay kg-1 soil) at Domboshawa in Zimbabwe to investigate the long-term effects of organic resource quality and application rate, and nitrogen (N) fertilization on soil chemical properties and maize (Zea mays L.) productivity. Crotalaria juncea (high quality), Calliandra calothyrsus (medium quality), cattle manure (variable quality), maize stover and Pinus patula sawdust (both low quality) were incorporated into soil at 4.0 t C ha-1 (high rate) and 1.2 t C ha-1 (low rate) at the start of each cropping season for nine consecutive years. At both high and low application rates, each of the five organic resources was applied in combination with or without mineral nitrogen (N) fertilizer at 120 kg N ha-1. The nine-year period saw maize grain yields declining by 22% to 84% across treatments despite increases in soil organic carbon, total N and available P from 6% to 80%. Crotalaria, Calliandra and manure led to a less steep yield decline. Exchangeable calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg) and potassium (K), and soil pH explained much of the variation in yield patterns observed under the different organic resource applications. Maize grain yield was positively correlated with exchangeable Ca (r = 0.51), Mg (r = 0.62) and K (r = 0.53), and soil pH (r = 0.49), but negatively correlated with other soil properties over the 9-year period. We concluded that declining soil exchangeable basic cations were the underlying causes of decreasing maize productivity, and was aggravated by use of low rates of organic resource inputs, particularly with N fertilization. Current nutrient management and fertilizer recommendations that emphasize inorganic N, P and K significantly undervalue the role played by organic resources in sustainability of maize cropping systems in southern Africa.