Effect of conservation agriculture practices on maize yields and environmental conservation on steep slopes of Southern Uluguru mountains

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Sokoine University of Agriculture


This study was conducted at Kolero village, on the footslopes of southern Uluguru Mountains in order to investigate the effectiveness of different Conservation Agriculture practices on soil moisture retention its implication on maize production and environmental conservation on the steep slopes. Two factors (tillage practice and cover crop) each at three levels were combined to form a 3 x 3 factorial experiment and tested in Randomized Complete Block Design (RCBD) with three replications each. Levels for Tillage were shallow tillage, zero tillage and strip tillage and those for cover crop were slash and burn, lablab and cowpea. Moisture readings were taken at 0 - 30 cm, 30 - 60 cm and 60 - 90 cm soil depths. Data were analysed using GenStat Software 14th Edition. Results showed that there were significant differences among treatments on moisture retention at soil depth at 60 - 90 cm. Moisture retained within 0-30 cm, 30 - 60 cm and 60 - 90 cm ranged from 13.23% - 15.87%, 18.06% - 19.01% and 14.63% - 15.71%, respectively. There were significant differences (p<0.05) among treatments on maize yield, biomass produced and percentage of cover crop development. Conventional practice had high maize yield (4.5 t/ha) compared to the tested CA practices. Cowpea showed to be a good cover crop when combined with strip tillage, as it resulted in small reduction in maize yield (5%) when compared with conventional practice. Lablab provided good percentage cover later in the growing season than at the beginning. There was a little improvement on soil chemical properties caused by incorporating minimum tillage and cover crops as CA practices on maize production. Results showed that there is a need to incorporate maize and other crop residues for effective moisture retention.




Agriculture Practices, Maize Yields, Environmental Conservation, Steep Slopes