Comparative effects of conservation tillage systems on selected soil properties and yields of groundnut(arachis hypogaea)
Bwalya, Bisa Chileshe
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Conservation Agriculture has been recommended as a sustainable farming system for many crops in Zambia based on reported improvements in soil infiltration, moisture, soil carbon, microbial activity and reduced bulk density over time. However, the effects in groundnuts such as plant development, agronomic aspects such as biological nitrogen fixation and yields under conservation systems remain scanty. A study was carried out during the 2014/15 cropping season at Msekera research station in Chipata, Eastern Zambia to determine effects different conservation practices on the soil and groundnuts development and productivity. Three tillage systems namely Conventional tillage (CV), Conservation tillage (CT) (minimum tillage + soil cover) and Conservation farming (CF) (CT + legume in rotation), were evaluated to determine their effect on selected soil properties and yields in groundnut (Arachis hypogaea). The tillage systems were arranged in a split plot design. All parameters except soil chemical properties, nodule weight and biological nitrogen fixation were affected by tillage, with CV yielding better results. The lowest bulk density was 1.29 g/cm3 under CV, while the highest bulk density was 1.52 g/cm3 under CT. The crop under CV had more above and below ground biomass. The 100 seed weight was highest under CV, with a mean of 56.81, while CF and CT it was 55.08 and 54.24 g/100 seeds, respectively. The crops under CV had the highest number of pods per plant at 24.63, with the lowest being CT with 18.43. Yields ranged from 1.42 for CF to 2.13 t/ha under CV. The results indicated that for groundnuts conventional farming systems are better than conservation farming or tillage. The superior performance of groundnut under CV could be attributed to lower bulk density, higher porosity and the soil nitrogen dynamics.
The University of Zambia