Tie-ridge tillage for high altitude pulse production in northern ethiopia

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Pulses including faba bean (Vicia faba L.), lentil (Lens culinaris Medic.), and field pea (Pisum sativum L.) are important components of the cropping systems of semiarid high-altitude northern Ethiopia. Yield potential is often constrained by severe water deficits during grain fill which might be alleviated by reducing runoff throughout the season using microbasin or tie-ridge tillage. Research was conducted to determine the effects of time of tie-ridge tillage and planting method on soil water availability and on the performance of these three pulse crops. The site was at 2740 m altitude on Torriorthent sandy loam or loamy sand soils. Eight treatments, including a 3 x 2 factorial of tillage x planting method, were evaluated in separate trials for each crop species in 2005 and 2006 with a randomized block design with three replications. Tie-ridge tillage improved soil water availability compared with the traditional practice of planting without ridges, and soil water was least depleted during the growing season with tie-ridge formation at 4 wk after planting (TR4WAP) when the first weeding was done. Grain yield and nodulation were also highest with TR4WAP, with mean grain yield increases of 79, 31, and 96% for faba bean, lentil, and field pea, respectively, compared with flat planting. Tie-ridging at other times typically resulted in increased grain yield compared with traditional flat planting if planted on the ridge, but decreased yield with in-furrow planting. Mean grain yield was 48, 23, and 35% with planting on the ridge compared with in-furrow if tie-ridging was done before planting for faba bean, lentil, and field pea, respectively. Soil water availability, however, was higher with in-furrow planting. Tie-ridging, or possibly reshaping earlier-formed tie-ridges, at the time of the first weeding after planting was most effective in improving pulse yield.

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