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Conservation agriculture enhances resistance of maize to climate stress in a Malawian medium-term trial

Author: Steward, P.R.
Author: Thierfelder, C.
Author: Dougill, A.J.
Author: Ivy Sichinga Ligowe
Year: *2019
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10883/19606
Descriptors: Conservation agriculture
Descriptors: Heat stress
Descriptors: Climate change adaptation
Abstract: Smallholder farming in southern African needs climate-smart agricultural approaches to adapt to current climate stress and climate variability, and increasing risk of these under future global climate change. There are a range of climate-smart systems that have been proposed and conservation agriculture (CA) based on minimum soil disturbance, crop residue retention and crop rotation is one of them. A CA trial established in 2007 in Malawi was used during cropping -seasons 2015–2016 (El Niño) and 2016–2017 (La Niña) to assess the performance and resistance of different CA maize systems under climate-related stress at anthesis, a climate sensitive growth stage. Large in-situ rainout shelters were used to simulate increased daytime temperatures and in-season droughts of 18–19 days and 27 days. CA systems better resisted climate stress around anthesis than conventional tillage practices as CA systems showed greater resistance to drought than conventional practice. This was expressed by higher CA maize grain yields, biomass yields or harvest index under conditions of natural (El Niño) or 19 day simulated drought. However, under 27 day drought simulation the resistance benefit of CA was no-longer significant. Crop diversification improved the resistance of CA systems to climate stress, more so when diversification was over time (rotation) than in space (intercropping). In all years CA systems substantially outyielded conventional practice, this highlights the benefits of medium-term (eight years) CA management before the rainout shelter experiment started. Our results from natural and simulated drought conditions confirm that CA systems can increase adaptive capacity to an increased risk of climate stress associated with projected global climate change. We show that large-scale rainout shelters are a useful means of accelerating our understanding of how long-term agricultural management practices can enhance resistance to climate stresses.
Abstract: Smallholder farming in southern African needs climate-smart agricultural approaches to adapt to current climate stress and climate variability, and increasing risk of these under future global climate change. There are a range of climate-smart systems that have been proposed and conservation agriculture (CA) based on minimum soil disturbance, crop residue retention and crop rotation is one of them. A CA trial established in 2007 in Malawi was used during cropping -seasons 2015–2016 (El Niño) and 2016–2017 (La Niña) to assess the performance and resistance of different CA maize systems under climate-related stress at anthesis, a climate sensitive growth stage. Large in-situ rainout shelters were used to simulate increased daytime temperatures and in-season droughts of 18–19 days and 27 days. CA systems better resisted climate stress around anthesis than conventional tillage practices as CA systems showed greater resistance to drought than conventional practice. This was expressed by higher CA maize grain yieldds, biomass yields or harvest index under conditions of natural (El Niño) or 19 day simulated drought. However, under 27 day drought simulation the resistance benefit of CA was no-longer significant. Crop diversification improved the resistance of CA systems to climate stress, more so when diversification was over time (rotation) than in space (intercropping). In all years CA systems substantially outyielded conventional practice, this highlights the benefits of medium-term (eight years) CA management before the rainout shelter experiment started. Our results from natural and simulated drought conditions confirm that CA systems can increase adaptive capacity to an increased risk of climate stress associated with projected global climate change. We show that large-scale rainout shelters are a useful means of accelerating our understanding of how long-term agricultural management practices can enhance resistance to climate stresses.
Language: English
Publisher: Elsevier Masson
Copyright: CIMMYT manages Intellectual Assets as International Public Goods. The user is free to download, print, store and share this work. In case you want to translate or create any other derivative work and share or distribute such translation/derivative work, please contact CIMMYT-Knowledge-Center@cgiar.org indicating the work you want to use and the kind of use you intend; CIMMYT will contact you with the suitable license for that purpose.
Type: Article
Country: Malawi
Place: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Pages: 95-104
Journal: Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Journal volume: 277
DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2018.07.009
Keywords: Rainout Shelters
Audicence: Researchers
Country of Focus: SOUTHERN AFRICAN
Agrovoc: ZERO TILLAGE
Agrovoc: RESISTANCE
Agrovoc: HEAT STRESS
Agrovoc: CLIMATE SMART AGRICULTURE
Agrovoc: ADAPTATION
Related Datasets: https://ars.els-cdn.com/content/image/1-s2.0-S0167880918302846-mmc1.docx


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  • Maize
    Maize breeding, phytopathology, entomology, physiology, quality, and biotech

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