Effects of soil and water management practices on crop productivity in West Africa
Several soil and water managment practices were tested under on-station and on-farm conditions in four different countries in West Africa (Ghana, Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali). Some of the soil and water management practices include - minimum tillage, contour ridging, tied ridging, use of stone ridges and grass bunds, application of microdose fertilizer along with compost, application of phosphorus fertilizer, intercropping systems and crop rotations to minimize soil erosion, harvest rainwater and increase soil fertility and crop productivity. Our results showed that use of these practices significanly increased productivity of several crops such as sorghum, millet, maize, peanut, cowpea and soybean. Grain yield of cereal and legume crops were similar under minimum tillage and conventional tillage practices in northern Ghana. Use of contour ridging increased sorghum grain yield by >25% in Mali. Tied ridges increase grain yield of sorghum and millet by >100% in Niger. Use of stone rows and grass stripes increased grain yield of improved sorghum genotypes by >20% in Burkina Faso. Use of mechanized zai and compost increased millet yield by >50% in Burkina Faso. Application of phosphorus fertilizer increased grain yield of sorghum, millet, and soybean in Niger and Ghana. Use of conservation practices such as minimum tillage, cereal-legume crop rotations and intercropping systems showed yield benefits from 5 to 30% in Ghana and Mali. Overall, these result suggest that there are opportunities to improve productivity of cereal and legume crops in West Africa through using sustainable intensive soil, water and crop management practices.