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Effects of conservation agriculture on runoff, soil loss and crop yield under rain fed conditions in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia

Author: Tesfay Araya
Author: Cornelis, W.M.
Author: Nyssen, J.
Author: Govaerts, B.
Author: Bauer, H.
Author: Tewodros Gebregziabher
Author: Tigist Oicha
Author: Raes, D.
Author: Sayre, K.D.
Author: Mitiku Haile
Author: Deckers, J.
Year: 2011
ISSN: 0266-0032
Abstract: The aim of conservation agriculture (CA) is to improve soil quality and crop yield whilst reducing runoff and topsoil erosion. An experiment was carried out in a rainfed field using a permanent raised bed planting system for 3 yr (2005?2007) in Adigudem, northern Ethiopia in order to evaluate the effect of CA on runoff, soil loss and crop yield. CA practices were introduced in fields with Vertisols in a randomized complete block design on permanent 5 × 19 m plots. Three treatments were evaluated: (1) conventional tillage (CT) with a minimum of three tillage operations and removal of crop residues, (2) terwah (TER) that was similar to CT except that contour furrows were included at 1.5 m intervals, and (3) derdero+ (DER+), which consists of permanent raised beds with a furrow and bed system, retention of 30% of standing crop residues and zero tillage on the top of the bed. All ploughing as well as the maintenance of the furrows of the permanent raised beds was done using a local ard plough called maresha. Results from monitoring over 3 yr showed that soil loss and runoff were significantly higher (P < 0.05) in CT followed by TER and DER+. Average soil losses of 5.2, 20.1 and 24.2 t/ha were recorded from DER+, TER and CT, respectively. Runoff was 46.3, 76.3 and 98.1 mm from DER+, TER and CT, respectively. Grain yield was significantly lower (P < 0.05) in DER+ under teff in 2006, probably due to the high sensitivity of teff to weeds. The yield of wheat in 2007 was significantly higher in DER+ followed by TER. The terwah system is recommended as a first measure for wider adoption to reduce runoff and soil loss and to increase crop yield. The long-term goal is to achieve a derdero+ system, i.e. a permanent raised bed planting system along with the application of crop residues.
Language: English
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Type: Article
Country: Ethiopia
Region: Eastern Africa
Pages: 404-414
Journal issue: 3
Journal: Soil use and management
Journal volume: 27
DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-2743.2011.00347.x
Keywords: Terwah
Keywords: derdero
Keywords: permanent raised bed
Keywords: Crop residues
Keywords: Wheat
Keywords: teff
Keywords: Conservation agriculture

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  • Sustainable Intensification
    Sustainable intensification agriculture including topics on cropping systems, agronomy, soil, mechanization, precision agriculture, etc.

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