Tillage and fertility management effects on soil organic matter and sorghum yield in semi-arid West Africa

E. Ouédraogo, A. Mando, L. Brussaard, L. Stroosnijder

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37 Citations (Scopus)


Whether it is traditional, modern or "sustainable" agriculture, soil organic matter plays a key role in sustaining crop production and in preventing land degradation. A field experiment was conducted on a Ferric Lixisol at Gampela (Burkina Faso) in 2000 and 2001 to carried out the effects of tillage, fertilisation and their interaction on soil organic carbon (SOC) (0-10 cm), crop performance and microbial activities. Maize straw or sheep dung were applied separately or combined with urea in a till or no-till systems and compared with urea only and a control treatment. Sampling was done each year at 2 months after sowing and at harvest. SOC was increased in the tillage treatments in 2000 by 35% but only with 18% in 2001 suggesting reduced carbon accumulation in the absence of organic and mineral restitution. Ploughing in maize straw under conditions of N deficiency led to a drastic decrease in SOC due microbial priming effect that, was not observed when ploughing in sheep dung. In no-till system, losses, organic amendment N concentration and the soil N status determined the impact on SOC and crop productivity. The negative effect on SOC in the tillage treatment with maize straw (4.1 g kg(-1)) was less when maize straw was combined with urea (6.2 g kg(-1)). It is concluded that in semi-arid West Africa, without both organic resource and N inputs, soil organic matter "pays" for crop N nutrition. Increasing SOC accumulation while improving crop yield may be conflicting under low-input agricultural systems in semi-arid West Africa. Therefore, optimum soil organic carbon and crop performance results from a judicious combination of organic resources and inorganic N mediated by microbial activity. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-74
JournalSoil & Tillage Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • sustainable land-use
  • microbial biomass
  • biocidal treatments
  • carbon
  • dynamics
  • metabolism

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