Interactive effects of conservation tillage, residue management, and nitrogen fertilizer application on soil properties under maize-cotton rotation system on highly weathered soils of West Africa

Eeusha Nafi, Heidi Webber, Isaac Danso, Jesse B. Naab, Michael Frei, Thomas Gaiser

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28 Scopus citations

Abstract

Loss of topsoil, enriched with nutrients, reduces soil fertility, and is one of the major impediments to sustainable crop production in West Africa. Appropriate management practices can lead to a stable restoration of land's capacity to provide adequate ecosystem services. Thus, our study aimed to investigate the impact of alternative management practices and their interactions on topsoil (0–20 cm) organic carbon (SOCd), nutrient stocks [total nitrogen (STNd), phosphorus (SPd) and potassium (SKd)] under a maize-cotton rotation system on highly weathered soils of West Africa. To this end, on-farm trials were set up on four sites in the sub-humid Savanna of West Africa (2 in Benin (St1 and St2), and 2 in Burkina-Faso (St3 and St4)) in a strip-split plot layout, where 2 levels of tillage (contour ridge tillage, Ct and reduced tillage, Rt) were considered as main plot factor, and sub-plot factors included 2 levels of crop residue management (removed, CRr and incorporated, CRi), and 2 levels of N fertilizer (control, N0 and recommended rate, Nr). In 2016, after 5 cycles of annual maize-cotton rotation (2012–2016), the largest pool of soil nutrients was recorded on St3 (Haplic Lixisol, footslope in Benin), while the lowest content was observed on St1 (Ferric Lixisol, footslope in Burkina). When comparing the treatments, we found that Ct combined with CRi improved soil nutrient stocks in upslope sites, St2 (Eutric Plinthosol, upslope in Burkina) and St4 (Plinthic Lixisol, upslope in Benin), which are more prone to erosion. At the same time, footslope sites (St1 and St3) benefited from Rt coupled with CRi. CRi promoted an increase in SPd and SKd on all sites except St1 (Haplic Lixisol on footslope). The application of recommended dose of N fertilizer improved STNd under the Ct system in upslope regions and under the Rt system in footslope regions. However, no significant difference was observed for soil pH among the treatments across all sites. In summary, the efficiency of practices for conservation of soil nutrient stocks was closely related to landscape position of the field, which was correlated with soil moisture, textural class, and gravel content. Consequently, site-adapted tillage practices combined with residue incorporation are crucial for sustainable soil fertility management and crop productivity under maize-cotton rotation in smallholder production systems in West Africa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104473
JournalSoil and Tillage Research
Volume196
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier B.V.

Keywords

  • Crop residue
  • Tillage
  • West Africa

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