Yield Responses of Maize to Organic and Mineral Fertilizers at Different Inclinations in Tropical Smallholder Farming Systems

  •  W. Egodawatta    
  •  Peter Stamp    
  •  U. Sangakkara    


A field study was conducted on the potential of Gliricidia (Gliricidia sepium (Jacq.) Kunth ex Walp.) to enhance productivity of degraded soils. Maize was cropped in a hilly region of Sri Lanka with and without the recommended mineral fertilization, in two major seasons, October-January in 2007/8 (Year 1) and in 2008/9 (Year 2) on 92 farms at two inclinations: Flat (0-10%) and Moderate (10-30%). On half the farms, green manure (Gliricidia leaves) was added (3 tonnes per hectare per season). NPK boosted production to a very respectable mean grain yield of 4.2 t/ha on Flat farms. At ZERO, the yield was lower by 60%, irrespective of the inclination. Gliricidia failed to replace the required nitrogen, even with an adequate supply of phosphorous and potassium (PK). In contrast, together with NPK, Gliricidia increased yields by 15-20% compared to NPK alone, while the gain was 35% at ZERO. Fields in the Moderate category were more responsive to green manure and mineral fertilizers. The high response to mineral fertilizers indicated that the degradation of the soils resulted to a greater extent in chemical rather than in physical deficits. But intensive cropping reduced the soil organic matter within two years, to some extent slowed down by Gliricidia green manure. Therefore an intense cropping for the sake of food security must be accompanied by soil conserving cropping systems.

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