Ratooning pigeonpea in maize-pigeonpea intercropping: Productivity and seed cost reduction in eastern Tanzania uri icon

abstract

  • Smallholder farmers frequently suffer limited resources and cannot afford to buy improved seeds every season resulting in poor crop establishment. Strategies are needed to reduce costs of crop establishment while maintaining or improving productivity. The objective of this study was to assess the viability of ratooning pigeonpea in maize (Zea mays L.) pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan (L.) Millsp.) intercropping over four cropping seasons (2012-2015) at Ilonga Research Institute, eastern Tanzania. Two major factors were considered: cropping system (intercropping vs. sole cropping) and tillage (conventional tillage vs. no-tillage), while ratooning (cutting pigeonpea at 30 cm and 60 cm above ground) was a minor factor. Total grain yields of all intercropped maize and pigeonpea were significantly higher than those of maize and legume in the corresponding sole crop treatments showing a high complementarity between maize and pigeonpea crops. All the intercrop treatments had LER values greater than 1, even in situations where component crop yields were small. Results suggested that a ratooning height of 30 cm allowed large maize yields whereas a height of 60 cm allowed larger pigeonpea yields, and the choice of ratooning height might depend on the farmer's objective per season. The tillage system had no significant effect on crop yield. The hypothesis that ratooning pigeonpea is an effective cost reduction strategy that maintains or increases productivity in maize-pigeonpea intercropping was supported. When ratooning was practiced in the intercrops, the seed cost reduction of 23% per season was recorded. Ratooning in sole pigeonpea entailed a larger seed cost reduction from TZS40, 000.00 to TZS13, 333.00 (1US$=TZS2, 000.00) per season representing a reduction of 67%. The cost reduction due to ratooning was significant as generally less than 10% of the smallholder farmers are able to purchase significant quantities of seed. The prevailing cropping systems and general farmers' resource endowment in eastern Tanzania coupled with the fragmented seed systems especially for legumes provide a greater scope for the wide scale practice of ratooning pigeonpea in maize-pigeonpea intercropping, reducing seed costs while maintaining productivity. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • 2017
  • 2017