Partial Nutrient Balances in Tropical Velvet Bean-Maize System in Zimbabwe

  •  Obert Jiri    
  •  Paramu Mafongoya    


In a field experiment on legume-maize cropping sequence, the effect of nitrogen and phosphate fertiliser application on nutrient budgeting after a two year cropping cycle was studied. The results of this work showed that partial nutrient balances can give an indication about the sustainability of a system unless a full stock of all the nutrients is known. It is also clear from these results that there would unlikely be a carryover of N to the next season, probably due to leaching of N from the top soil. Positive partial P balances would, on the other hand, be of residual value. However, it should be noted that the positive partial P balances were only observed where maize yield was low. The long-term perspectives of a crop production system cannot be assessed solely on the basis of partial nutrient balances. The nutrient stock: balance ratio may be a better indicator of sustainability, giving a more accurate indication of how long farming can continue in the same way, given the available nutrients. These points towards taking a fresh look at the existing recommended application rates for maize crops.

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