Long-Term Effects of Tillage, Phosphorus Fertilization and Crop Rotation on Pearl Millet-Cowpea Productivity in the West-African Sahel

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The millet (Pennisetum glaucum)-based cropping systems that dominate the Sudano–Sahelian Zone of West Africa cannot, as they are currently practised, meet the growing food needs of the region. They must therefore be intensified in a sustainable manner. The present study was initiated in 1986 and continued until 1996 to evaluate the effects of phosphorus (P) fertilization, tillage and rotation with sole cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) on an operational scale with two cropping systems, namely, sole millet and millet–cowpea intercropping. A randomized complete block design with four replications was used. The effects of P fertilization, ridging with animal traction and planting on ridges (AT), and rotation with sole cowpea increased the productivity of millet substantially in 10 of the 11 years. Based on the 11-year average, P fertilization alone improved grain yield by 52%, and AT with P fertilization improved grain yield by nearly 135%. Combining AT, P fertilization and the sole cowpea rotation resulted in a 200% increase in grain yield compared with the traditional system of production. Millet productivity did not show a significant decline when intercropped with cowpea. Stability and relative stability analysis showed that the traditional system was more stable than the various agronomic packages, but had the least yield. Conversely, the agronomic package with the highest yield advantage over the traditional system was the least stable. A major portion of the annual variation in the environmental index for grain yield and total dry matter was attributed to the seasonal variation in rainfall and organic matter depletion. Organic matter levels declined linearly with years of cultivation. Significant differences were found in the rate of depletion between the various agronomic treatments tested. After 11 years, nearly 60% of the organic matter was depleted irrespective of the agronomic treatments.
Phosphorus, Millets
Subbarao, G.V., C. Renard, W.A. Paynes and A. Bationo. 2000. “Long-Term Effects of Tillage, Phosphorus Fertilization and Crop Rotation on Pearl Millet-Cowpea Productivity in the West African Sahel,” Experimental Agriculture, Vol. 36, pp. 243-264.