Productivity and residual benefits of grain legumes to sorghum under semi-arid conditions in south-western Zimbabwe: Unravelling the effects of water and nitrogen using a simulation model

B. Ncube, J.P. Dimes, M.T. van Wijk, S.J. Twomlow, K.E. Giller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The APSIM model was used to assess the impact of legumes on sorghum grown in rotation in a nutrient-limited system under dry conditions in south-western Zimbabwe. An experiment was conducted at Lucydale, Matopos Research Station, between 2002 and 2005. The model was used to simulate soil and plant responses in the experiment. Sequences of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan), groundnut (Arachis hypogaea) and sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) were used in the rotations. Legumes accumulated up to 130 kg of N ha¿1 which was potentially available for uptake by sorghum in the following season. The APSIM model predicted total biomass, grain and N yields of the legume phase within the experimental error and performed well in predicting sorghum yield and N supplied in the rotation after cowpea and groundnut. The model generally under-predicted sorghum total biomass and grain yield after pigeonpea. Observed patterns of crop water use, evaporative losses during the dry season and re-charge of soil profile at the start of the rainy season were generally well predicted by the model. An assessment of output on sorghum N and water stresses in the rotation indicated that the legume¿cereal rotation is more driven by soil nitrogen availability than water availability even under semi-arid conditions. Further legume¿cereal rotation analysis using the model will assist in the understanding of other processes in the rotations in dry environments
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-184
JournalField Crops Research
Volume110
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Keywords

  • cropping systems
  • farming systems
  • apsim
  • fertilizer
  • fixation
  • growth
  • maize
  • yield

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