Yield and income risk-efficiency analysis of alternative systems for rice production in the Guinea Savannah of Northern Ghana
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Risk efficiency of rice grain yield and returns to farm operators' household resources generated from an improved short-duration cover crop fallow system were compared with (traditional) natural bush fallow, and continuous rice-cropping systems. The improved fallow system involved maintaining Calopogonium mucunoides, seeded into a natural bush fallow for 2 years before planting to rice. With no chemical fertilizer application, which reflects farmers' practice in the area, average grain yield for continuous rice (1,185 kg/ha) and the cropping sequence incorporating a natural bush fallow (1,175 kg/ha) did not differ, but were higher for the improved fallow system (1,304 kg/ha). This suggests that nutrient contribution from the leguminous cover crop made up for critical crop N requirements in the improved fallow. Stochastic dominance of grain yield distributions from the improved fallow system, relative to the other two cropping systems, was more dramatic with no N fertilizer application compared to treatments with 30 kg/ha N. Average returns were highest for the unproved fallow system, followed by the natural bush fallow-cropping system, and then continuous rice, under the no N fertilizer treatment regime. With 30 kg/ha N fertilizer, income risk efficiency was less clear (compared to treatments with no N fertilizer), especially between continuous rice and the improved fallow treatment, because of faster N mineralization effects on continuous rice. in contrast, the improved cover crop fallow system completely dominated the natural bush fallow treatment under both fertilizer regimes. Rice production systems that incorporated the leguminous cover crop fallow were superior to the natural bush fallow system, based on both grain yield and average farm income risk-efficiency considerations.
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