Sorghum-cowpea intercropping : an effective technique against runoff and soil erosion in the Sahel

R. Zougmore, F.N. Kambou, K. Ouattara, S. Guillobez

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34 Citations (Scopus)


In the Central Plateau of Burkina Faso, runoff on bare soil amounts to 40␘f annual rainfall and soil losses reach 4 to 8 Mg ha-? a-?, despite slopes of under 3ÐSeveral studies have shown that mulching the soil surface can reduce runoff by over 60ÐHowever, the scarcity of straw and the incompatibility of mulching with mechanical soil preparation have prevented the large-scale adoption of the technique. The study conducted in Saria village where annual rainfall is 800 mm,set out to evaluate the efficacy of sorghum-cowpea intercropping in reducing runoff and erosion. The study design comprised five plots set up so as to recover runoff and transported solids, on a Ferric lixisol with a slope of 0.7ÐThree years results showed that sorghum-cowpea intercropping reduces runoff by 20-30␌ompared to a sorghum monoculture and by 45-55␌ompared to a cowpea monoculture. Soil loss is also reduced with intercropping by at least a half compared to sorghumand cowpea monoculture. Moreover, it transpired that sorghum-cowpea intercropping is also beneficial in agricultural production terms, since the grain yield of the intercropped plots was double that obtained with sorghumor cowpea monocultures. The better crop production can be an asset for the widespread use of this technique in the country. An evaluation of the advantages of the legume in terms of nitrogen supplies to the cereal (N2 symbiotic fixation) and of added soil OM will be useful in improving the cost-effectiveness of such a technique.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-342
JournalArid soil research and rehabilitation : an international journal
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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