Nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization with crop residue retention enhances crop productivity, soil organic carbon, and total soil nitrogen concentrations in sandy-loam soils in Ghana uri icon

abstract

  • Sustainable management practices are needed to enhance soil organic carbon (SOC) in degraded soils in semi-arid West Africa. We studied the effects of three amounts of nitrogen (N) (0, 60 and 120 kg N ha(-1)) and three amounts of phosphorus (P) fertilizer (0, 26 and 39 kg P ha(-1)) application over four seasons on maize residue production, residue C, N, and P concentrations, and their impacts on SOC, total soil nitrogen (TSN), and total soil phosphorus (TSP) in the 0-20 cm soil layer. Combined application of N and P fertilizers substantially increased maize grain yield on average by 294 % and biomass produced and returned to the soil by about 60-70 % compared with no fertilization. Annual C, N, and P inputs from crop residue were significantly higher with combined application of N and P fertilizer. The increased amount of crop residue and consequent increased residue C, N and P returned to the soil significantly increased SOC, TSN and TSP in the 0-20 cm soil layer after four seasons. There was a significant correlation between the amount of crop residues returned to the soil over four seasons and SOC (r = 0.82; P = 0.007), TSN (r = 0.75; P = 0.020) and TSP (r = 0.69; P = 0.039). We concluded from these experiments that returning crop residues, application of inorganic fertilizer improves SOC, TSN and TSP concentrations and enhances crop productivity. The farmers who traditionally remove crop residues for fodder and fuel will require demonstration of the relative benefits of residues return to soil for sustainable crop productivity.

publication date

  • 2015
  • 2015