Adaptation to toposequence land types in West Africa of different sorghum genotypes in comparison with local cultivars of sorghum, millet, and maize uri icon

abstract

  • Gently undulating landscapes are typical for large parts of the Sudanian and Sahelian zones of the West African semiarid tropics. Within this landscape a pattern of land types and soils, which is closely linked to the topography, can be distinguished. Thus low fertility drought sensitive soils (Alfisols) are found on uplands, whereas the more fertile soils of the lower slopes and lowlands (mainly Inceptisols) will be moist to wet. In response to these variations in land types and the unpredictable rainfall, which can cause both droughts and floods during the rainy season, the subsistence farmers have adopted distinct cropping patterns in order to minimize the risk of crop failure under the conditions of a low input agriculture. Consequently, cropping patterns which closely follow the toposequence have evolved, with millets grown on dry uplands and slopes, maize on moist lower slopes, sorghum on lower slopes, and rice on lowlands.The present study was conducted mainly in Upper Volta and provides a scientific basis for these cropping patterns by analysing the responses of three major cereal crops to land types and to sowing dates. Next, several high yielding, introduced, sorghum cultivars were tested to determine their adaptation to the local conditions and to formulate plant characteristics useful to plant breeders in selecting improved cultivars which would best meet the requirements of the local agriculture.It was concluded that to meet the large diversity in land types and rainfall conditions typical for the West African semiarid tropics, even an advanced type agriculture would require a range of technological options, in terms of improved varieties and cultural practices. Consequently, the likelihood that a single improved cultivar could replace the local cultivars is remote, as is the possibility of introducing a standard technological package

publication date

  • 1985
  • 1985