Productivity and residual benefits of grain legumes to sorghum under semi-arid conditions in southwestern Zimbabwe

Ncube, B. and Twomlow, S.J. and Wijk, M.T. van and Dimes, J.P. and Giller, K.E. (2007) Productivity and residual benefits of grain legumes to sorghum under semi-arid conditions in southwestern Zimbabwe. Plant and Soil, 299 (1-2). pp. 1-15.

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The productivity and residual benefits of four grain legumes to sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) grown in rotation were measured under semi-arid conditions over three cropping seasons. Two varieties of each of the grain legumes; cowpea (Vigna unguiculata); groundnut (Arachis hypogaea); pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan); Bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea), and sorghum were grown during the first season. The same experiment was implemented three times in different, but adjacent fields that had similar soil types. At the end of the season the original plots were split in two and residues were either removed or incorporated into the subplots. The following season sorghum was planted in all subplots. In 2002/03 (314 mm rainfall) cowpeas produced the largest dry grain yield (0.98 and 1.36 t ha-1) among the legumes. During the wettest year (2003/04, 650 mm rainfall) groundnut had the highest yields (0.76 to 1.02 t ha-1). In 2004/05 (301 mm rainfall) most legume yields were less than 0.5 t ha-1, except for pigeon pea. Estimates of % N from N2-fixation from the legumes were 15-50% (2002/03), 16-61% (2003/04) and 29-83% (2004/05). Soil water changes during the legume growth cycle were proportional to varietal differences in total legume biomass. Sorghum grain yield after legumes reached up to 1.62 t ha-1 in 2003/04 compared with 0.42 t ha-1 when following sorghum. In 2004/05, sorghum yields after legumes were also higher (up to 1.26 t ha-1) than sorghum after sorghum. Incorporation of crop residues had no significant effect on sorghum yield. Beneficial effect of legumes on yields of the subsequent sorghum crop were more readily explained by improvements in soil nitrogen supply than by the small observed changes in soil water relations. Our results demonstrate clear potential benefits for increasing grain legume cultivation in semi-arid environments through the use of improved germplasm, which also gave substantial increases in subsequent sorghum productivity (up 200% in a wet season and 30-100% in a dry season), compared with an unfertilized sorghum crop following sorghum

Item Type: Article
Author Affiliation: Plant Production Systems, Department of Plant Sciences, Wageningen University, 6700 AK, P.O. Box 430, Wageningen, Netherlands
Subjects: Plant Production
Crop Improvement > Plant Breeding
Divisions: Sorghum
Depositing User: Syamala
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2011 17:20
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2011 17:20
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