Impact of Gliricidia sepium intercropping on soil organic matter fractions in a maize-based cropping system uri icon

abstract

  • The gliricidia (Gliricidia sepium)/maize intercropping system holds promise for increasing productivity in maize-based cropping systems on depleted soils in Southern Africa. The effect of the intercrop on soil properties was investigated to better understand soil processes underlying maize yield response, soil nutrient recapitalization and soil carbon sequestration. Soil organic matter (SOM) fractions, particulate organic matter (POM), POM-carbon, POM-nitrogen, soil nutrient status and underlying soil characteristics were quantified on the 14th year of a gliricidia/maize intercrop establish in 1991 on a Ferric Lixisol in southern Malawi. A factorial design compared the intercrop and a sole maize crop at three rates of added inorganic nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). Gliricidia leaf biomass was incorporated into the maize three times per year. Soil was sampled to a 20 cm depth, post-harvest to analyze biophysical and chemical characteristics of soil organic matter, POM, POM-C and POM-N, as well as inorganic N, available P, exchangeable K+ and particle size distribution. The gliricidia/maize intercrop had a significant and positive effect on SOM, POM, and SOM fractions: SOM was 12% higher, POM 40%, POM-C 62%, and POM-N 86% higher in the gliricidia intercrop compared to sole maize, indicating nitrogen enrichment of POM. Nitrogen fertilizer was associated with modest increases in POM, 15% in gliricidia and 27% in sole maize. The impacts of these changes were directed mostly at increasing maize yields and increasing storage of soil nutrients over the short term, while decreasing the proportion of organic matter stored over the long term. Both the gliricidia/maize intercrop and increasing soil clay content were associated with significantly increased soil CEC. The gliricidia intercrop maintained CEC in coarse-textured soils over a 14-year time span, indicating a role for legume trees in intensified cropping of coarse-textured soils
  • The gliricidia (Gliricidia sepium)/maize intercropping system holds promise for increasing productivity in maize-based cropping systems on depleted soils in Southern Africa. The effect of the intercrop on soil properties was investigated to better understand soil processes underlying maize yield response, soil nutrient recapitalization and soil carbon sequestration. Soil organic matter (SOM) fractions, particulate organic matter (POM), POM-carbon, POM-nitrogen, soil nutrient status and underlying soil characteristics were quantified on the 14th year of a gliricidia/maize intercrop establish in 1991 on a Ferric Lixisol in southern Malawi. A factorial design compared the intercrop and a sole maize crop at three rates of added inorganic nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). Gliricidia leaf biomass was incorporated into the maize three times per year. Soil was sampled to a 20 cm depth, post-harvest to analyze biophysical and chemical characteristics of soil organic matter, POM, POM-C and POM-N, as well as inorganic N, available P. exchangeable K+ and particle size distribution. The gliricidia/maize intercrop had a significant and positive effect on SOM, POM, and SOM fractions: SOM was 12% higher, POM 40%, POM-C 62%, and POM-N 86% higher in the gliricidia intercrop compared to sole maize, indicating nitrogen enrichment of POM. Nitrogen fertilizer was associated with modest increases in POM, 15% in gliricidia and 27% in sole maize. The impacts of these changes were directed mostly at increasing maize yields and increasing storage of soil nutrients over the short term, while decreasing the proportion of organic matter stored over the long term. Both the gliricidia/maize intercrop and increasing soil clay content were associated with significantly increased soil CEC. The gliricidia intercrop maintained CEC in coarse-textured soils over a 14-year time span, indicating a role for legume trees in intensified cropping of coarse-textured soils. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • 2010
  • 2010
  • 2010