Mulching effects on soil nutrient levels and yield in coffee farming systems in Rwanda

Innocent Nzeyimana*, Alfred E. Hartemink, Coen Ritsema, Jean Jacques M. Mbonigaba, Violette Geissen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Different combinations of organic mulch were applied in smallholder coffee farming systems to assess their effects on soil nutrient contents and coffee yield at three sites in different agro-ecological zones in Rwanda. Mulching systems consisted of Cymbopogon spp. (T1), Panicum spp. (T2), Cymbopogon spp. and Panicum spp. (T3), Eucalyptus spp. and Cymbopogon spp. (T4), mixed residues (T5) and un-mulched coffee used as control (T6). Mulch had significant and specific effects at each site (p < 0.001). T3 reduced soil pH value and exchangeable acidity at Kibirizi, while at Karongi and Ruli, these effects were observed with T4 and T5. T4 and T5 significantly increased the content of soil carbon (C), nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg). The amount of nutrients released was regulated by the amount and type of mulch applied, the agro-ecological conditions and the soil properties at each site. The increased soil nutrient levels led to improved soil fertility conditions and increased coffee yields. The coffee yields were significantly increased with T1 at Karongi (p < 0.05) by up to 1.9 t ha−1. T2 and T3 had significantly higher yields at Kibirizi. Yields at Kibirizi were 48% lower compared to yields at Karongi; at this site, T1, T2, T3, T4 and T5 increased yields by 57%, 26%, 31%, 20% and 28%, respectively, when compared to the no mulching treatment (T6). However, coffee yields over 1.9 t ha−1 can only be obtained with additional applications of inorganic fertilizer at different rates depending on the agro-ecological zone and soil type.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-70
JournalSoil Use and Management
Volume36
Issue number1
Early online date8 Jul 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

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Keywords

  • coffee yield
  • fertilizer recommendations
  • organic mulch
  • soil management

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