Planted legume fallows reduce weeds and increase soil N and P contents but not upland rice yields uri icon

abstract

  • Shortened fallows have resulted in declining upland rice yields in slash-and-burn upland rice systems in northern Laos. We studied the benefit of planted legume fallows for rice productivity, weeds, and soil nitrogen and phosphorus availability. Four systems were evaluated over a 5-year period: 1-year fallow with native species, 1-year Cajanus cajan fallow, 1-year Leucaena leucocephala fallow, and continuous annual rice cropping. Rice was grown either once each year as continuous annual cropping or in alternate years of 2001, 2003, and 2005. C. cajan and L. leucocephala were sown with rice during the 2001 growing season. In subsequent years, L. leucocephala regenerated from root stock and did not have to be resown, whereas C. cajan was resown in 2003. Establishment of either C. cajan or L. leucocephala had no significant effect on rice yield in 2001, and rice yields ranged from 2.0 to 2.3 t/ha. Rice yields declined rapidly in succeeding years, and rice yields in the four systems ranged from 0.7 to 1.1 t/ha in 2003 and from 0.3 to 0.5 t/ha in 2005. Although two planted fallow systems increased nitrogen input because of greater biomass accumulation in 2003 and 2005 and soil phosphorus availability was higher following L. leucocephala fallow in 2005, there were no significant differences in rice yields among the four systems in either year. Weed biomass during the rice growing season increased each year in all systems and increased more rapidly for continuous annual rice cropping, in which the dominant weed species was Ageratum conyzoides L. Among the other three systems, there were no significant differences in the weed biomass in 2003 and 2005. We conclude that C. cajan and L. leucocephala as 1-year fallows do not offset the negative effects of increased cropping intensity on rice yield in this region.

publication date

  • 2008
  • 2008