Conservation agriculture in Senegal: comparing the effects of intercropping and mulching on millet yields
Trail, Patrick James
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Situated on the western edge of Africa's harsh Sahel region, Senegal faces a number of agricultural production constraints. Limited rainfall, poor soil fertility, and insufficient agronomic inputs all contribute to low yielding millet production systems. This study was initiated to assess the potential for intercropping either cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.) or mungbean (Vigna radiata (L.) Wilczek) into traditional pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.) cropping systems. During the 2013 and 2014 growing seasons two varieties of cowpea (upright and viney), and one variety of mungbean (upright) were grown in monoculture and subsequently intercropped with millet to evaluate the potential for increasing millet and overall yields. Millet was also planted with a mulch (2 t/ha of neem leaves) to test the effectiveness of increased ground cover on millet yields. In addition to yield data, soil moisture and plant NDVI data were also collected. Millet grain yields increased when intercropped with either cowpea or mungbean compared to millet that was grown alone, with grain yield increases of up to 55%. Additionally, the combined grain yields (millet + bean) were up to 67% higher than the traditional monoculture millet. The addition of mulch was the most effective treatment and increased millet grain yields up to 70%. Soil moisture increased up to 14% in mulched treatments over millet monoculture treatments. All yield increases were achieved without the addition of fertilizers or nutrient amendments. In an attempt to mimic local practices our experiment was rainfed and no soil amendments were introduced.
- Masters Theses