THE MICROENVIRONMENT OF A CEREAL BASED INTERCROP AT SAMARU. NORTHERN NIGERIA

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THE MICROENVIRONMENT OF A CEREAL BASED INTERCROP AT SAMARU. NORTHERN NIGERIA

Abstract:

Depending on soil and climatic characteristics particularly, rainfall, crop production in northern Nigeria can be limited by inefficient use of nutrient especially, nitrogen and phosphorus, or by inefficient use of water. Intercropping system evolved as a common practice in response to mitigating those limitations. This is because intercropping may utilize these resources at greater efficiency and produce higher total yields than the monocrops. The objective of this study was to characterize the nature of the environment and examine its effect on productivity under different cropping system with a view to recommend a component technology to farmers. The sorghum/maize combination is a popular intercrop in the Northern Guinea Savanna. From the perspective of what the farmer does, field studies spanning three seasons (1996-1998) were conducted on a fairly drained Typic Haplustalf in Samaru. The experimental design was a randomized complete block design with twelve different cropping systems, which revolved around two sorghum varieties namely, Ihe local ‘farafara’ and Ihe improved SAMSORG-14. Results of climatic analyses revealed abundant solar radiation (400 cal cm”2 day”1) in Samaru, which raised its potential for crop production. Analysis of rainfall events revealed a progressive drier condition with years with rainfall amount falling below the long term mean (1050 mm) and, the probability of drought is high at the beginning and end of the growing season. The soils of the area are structurally poor with low native fertility and poor water holding capacity. Generally, crop observaticn have shown greater and efficient use of resources under intercropping. Peak light interception (780%) was attained at 70 DAS, same for peak leaf area index (3.35). Leaf area index and fractional light interception followed a sigmoidal pattern; after emergence, they both increase linearly up to maturity and then decrease at a diminishing rate due to leaf senescence. Light use efficiency ranged from 4.67g MJ-1 in the Farafara/ Maize/Cowpea-R to 1.75 g MJ”1 in the monocroppcd maize. This further confirm the efficient use of light resources by intercropping systems. Local ‘Farafara’ recorded higher grain yield and seed weight both in mixture or when planted sole. Stand intercrop favours higher grain yield over the row planting pattern. The Land Equivalent Ratio (LER) showed SAMSORG-14/MAIZE/COWPEA mixtures having the highest value of 1.69 in 1996 compared to the 1.60 in the FARAFARA/Maize/Cowpea mixtures. This indicate a more efficient space usage over the monocrop. In addition, results of water use (efficiency) showed intercropping to more efficiently use water than the monocropped component. The Farafara/Maize/Cowpea mixtures produced 12.5 kg ha’1 dry matter for every unit millimeter of water utilized while the monocropped Farafara and SAMSORG-14 produced only 7.5 kg ha-1 and 3.9 kg ha-1 dry matter respectively for same unit of water. The higher performance of the local Farafara tends to be due to its strong adaptation and restriction to the Northern Guinea Savanna, which is the zone of study. Results on environmental factors showed a high negative relationship between intercrop yield and rainfall amount. This shows that rainfall distribution and not necessarily the amount is the factor that improve crop yield. In addition time (date of planting) was seen to have a strong relationship to yield. When crops are planted early, yield obtained doubled those of late sown ones.

THE MICROENVIRONMENT OF A CEREAL BASED INTERCROP AT SAMARU. NORTHERN NIGERIA

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