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Maize yields under coppicing and non coppicing fallows in a fallow–maize rotation system in central Zimbabwe

Abstract

Fallowing can improve crop yields as a result of improved soil fertility and nutrient status. The objective of this work was to determine the effects of fallows and pruning regimes in coppicing fallows on soil moisture and maize yields under conventional tillage (CT) and no tillage (NT). Fallows that were evaluated were coppicing Acacia angustissima, non coppicing Sesbania sesban, natural fallow (NF) and continuous maize. In 2000/2001 season, maize yields were significantly different (P < 0.05) among treatments and were; 1.8, 1.2, 0.7 and 0.5 tonnes per hectare (t ha−1) under CT, while under NT yields were 1.3, 0.8, 0.7 and 0.2 t ha−1 for A. angustissima, maize, S. sesban and NF plots respectively. In 2001/2002 season, yields decreased in the order S. sesban > continuous maize > NF > A. angustissima, for both CT and NT. The 2-week pruning regime had significantly higher maize yields when compared to the 1 and 3 week pruning regime during the 2002/2003 cropping season. For the three seasons, CT had significantly higher yields than NT. A. angustissima had significantly higher mean available water at suctions <33 kPa for the 0–25 cm depth when compared to other fallow treatments. The bulk of the available water (47–80%) was retained at suction <33 kPa for all treatments and depths. There were no treatment differences in water retention at suctions >33 kPa for all treatments. It was concluded that improved fallowing increased yields when compared to NF. However, in coppicing fallows competition for water can result in reduced yields when there is rainfall deficiency, thus the need for pruning to manage the competition.

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Acknowledgments

We thank ICRAF for the facilities at Domboshawa experimental site. We are grateful for funding given to the Department of Soil Science and Agricultural Engineering, University of Zimbabwe by the European Union (IMPALA Project No. ICA4-CT2000-30011) and ICRAF’s ANAFE Scholarship fund.

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Correspondence to G. Nyamadzawo.

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Nyamadzawo, G., Nyamugafata, P., Wuta, M. et al. Maize yields under coppicing and non coppicing fallows in a fallow–maize rotation system in central Zimbabwe. Agroforest Syst 84, 273–286 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10457-011-9453-9

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Keywords

  • Fallows
  • Coppices
  • No tillage
  • Conventional tillage
  • Soil moisture