Soil organic carbon dynamics of improved fallow-maize rotation systems under conventional and no-tillage in Central Zimbabwe

G. Nyamadzawo, R. Chikowo, P. Nyamugafata, J. Nyamangara, K.E. Giller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Fallowing increases soil organic carbon (SOC) during the fallowing phase. However, this benefit is lost quickly during the cropping phase. The objective of this study was to evaluate SOC dynamics of an improved fallow-maize rotation under no-tillage (NT) and conventional tillage (CT) from time of fallow termination, through the next two cropping seasons. The treatments studied were improved fallows of Acacia angustissima (A. angustissima) and Sesbania sesban (S. sesban), natural fallow and continuous maize. Our hypothesis is that fallowing maintained higher SOC and lower soil bulk densities through the cropping phase when compared with continuous maize system and that NT maintained higher SOC when compared with CT. Soil organic carbon was significantly greater under fallows than under continuous maize from fallow termination to the end of the second cropping season. Soil organic carbon for the 0¿5 cm depths was 11.0, 10.0, 9.4 and 6.6 g kg¿1 for A. angustissima, S. sesban, natural fallow and continuous maize, respectively at fallow termination. After two cropping seasons SOC for the same depth was 8.0, 7.0, 6.1, 5.9 g kg¿1 under CT and 9.1, 9.0, 8.0, 6.0 g kg¿1 under NT for A. angustissima, S. sesban, natural fallow and continuous maize, respectively. Total SOC stocks were also higher under fallows when compared with continuous maize at fallow termination and after two cropping seasons. Soil bulk densities were lower under fallows when compared with continuous maize during the period of study. We concluded that fallows maintained greater SOC and NT sequestered more SOC than CT. Acacia angustissima was the better tree legume fallow for SOC sequestration when compared with S. sesban or natural fallow because it maintained higher SOC and lower bulk densities after two seasons of maize cropping.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-93
JournalNutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems
Volume81
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Keywords

  • conservation tillage
  • physical-properties
  • tropical alfisol
  • crop-rotation
  • management
  • aggregation
  • matter
  • sequestration
  • stability
  • nitrogen

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