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An Assessment of the Merits of Rainfed Maize-legume Cropping Systems under Conservation Agriculture in Mozambique
AN ASSESSMENT OF THE MERITS OF RAINFED MAIZE-LEGUME CROPPING SYSTEMS UNDER CONSERVATION AGRICULTURE IN MOZAMBIQUE Domingos Dias1 and Isaiah Nyagumbo2 1 Instituto de Investigação Agrária de Moçambique (IIAM), Centro Zonal Centro, Estação Agrária de Sussundenga, Manica, Moçambique, firstname.lastname@example.org 2CIMMYT, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre, Box MP163, Mt. Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe, email@example.com;1. IntroductionThe majority (80%) of Mozambique’s 21 million people derive their living out of Agriculture 3.3 Yield performance(MINAG, 2010). On average maize yields hover around 0.8 t/ha due to low uptake of improvedtechnologies. Significant yield increases were observed in some communities even in the first season but not in others (Figures 4 & 5). Seasonal rainfall distribution and amounts determined margin of differences inFor example the use improved maize varieties is estimated at 4 % with a requirement of 1,300 each location with CA showing superiority in Sussundenga in the second season due to low rainfalltonnes per annum. Fertilizer use is also lower than 5% while mechanization is less than 2%. (650 mm total ). Intercrops were often preferred by farmers due to generation of two crops per givenImproved food security thus has to rely on upscaling the use of maize-legume systems using area.production technologies such Conservation Agriculture (CA). However the use of CA inMozambique is still very much at its infancy. Since 2010 the Australian Funded and CIMMYTmanaged ‘Sustainable intensification of Maize Legume systems in Eastern and Southern Africa’(SIMLESA) project has been evaluating the merits of a variety of maize-legume systems underConservation Agriculture in contrasting agro-ecologies of Central Mozambique. This studyevaluated soil moisture, crop yield and termite damage under the tested cropping systems in thelast two seasons since 2010 and presents highlights of results from a few selected communities in Figure 1. 95% of farmers insemi-arid Sussundenga district, Manica province and sub-humid Angonia district of Tete province. Mozambique use the hand hoe2. Materials and MethodsSix treatments involving the conventional farmer practice, Conservation Agriculture techniques and different crop establishmenttechniques such as jab planter an and basins were established in exploratory trials with six farmers per community. One openpollinated maize variety (Tsangano) was used as sole and in intercropping and rotation combinations with cowpea (IT-16). Otherimproved technologies included the application of fertilizers, row planting and inclusion of herbicides for weed management. Top soilmoisture on some sites were measured using a Time Domain Reflectometer (TDR) with probes measuring down to 20 cm depth. Visual N.B Red bars refer to legume yield in rotations and intercropscounts were used to assess termite damage in each treatment in Sussundenga district. Figure 4. Mean grain yields measured over two cropping seasons 2010/11 (703 mm) and 2011/12 (1000 mm) in Ciphole community, Tete province.3. Results and Discussion3.1 Soil MoistureRelative moisture content was higher in all CA based treatments thus providing an opportunity for making use of this extra moistureduring dry spells (Figure 2). N.B Red bars refer to legume in rotations and intercrops Error bars= LSD (0.05) Figure 5. Mean grain yields measured over two cropping seasons 2010/11 (733 mm) and 2011/12 ( 650 mm) in Sussundenga-sede community, Sussundenga district, Manica province. Figure 2. Soil moisture close to harvest time in Angonia, Mozambique (March 2012) 3.2 Termite assessment 4. Conclusions In Sussundenga termite infestations have been found to be high and negatively affect residue cover (Figure 3) but CA - Soil moisture results from Angonia suggest the possibility of intensified cropping by relay significantly (p<0.05) lowered termite damaged plants compared to farmer practice, an effect attributed to provision of cropping with legumes to utilize the extra moisture in CA alternative dry residues as a termite feed source. - Legume intercropping/rotation treatments preferred by farmers for generating two crops from the same piece of land. - Yield differences between CA and farmer practice dependent on quality of season and management. -CA tended to produce superior yields in seasons with dry spells or ‘below normal rainfall seasons’ while the margin of differences between CA and farmer practice was rather depressed or similar in ‘normal seasons.’ -Reduced termite damage on crops in CA treatments could act as a driver for CA uptake in termite prone environments such as Sussundenga. 5. Future outlook - There is need for more intense data collection in future to derive maximum returns from trial investments and establish the main factors impacting on yield in these CA studies. -New ideas and experiments for smart sequences and intensification are needed probably using crop modelling techniques such as APSIM. - Emphasis in future will be placed on outscaling the promising techniques while innovation platforms and partnerships will be strengthened to improve farmer access to improved seeds, Figure 3.. Number of damaged plants per plot of each treatment fertilizers, chemicals and output markets in line with SIMLESA targets.