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Universität Hohenheim (2019)

A study of pasture cropping as an alternative cropping system for sub-saharan Africa

Orford, Rohan

Titre : A study of pasture cropping as an alternative cropping system for sub-saharan Africa

Eine Studie zum Weideanbau als alternatives Anbausystem für Afrika südlich der Sahara

Auteur : Orford, Rohan

Université de soutenance : Universität Hohenheim

Grade : Dr. sc. agr. /Ph.D. in Agricultural Sciences 2019

Résumé partiel
With food security and soil degradation being a major concern and hurdle in the development goals of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), there has been and continues to be an attempt to find an alternative cropping system to conventional monocropping that rehabilitates soils whilst increasing productivity and efficiency of the subsistence cropping system. Such a cropping system needs to be realistically adoptable within the SSA social and ecological constraints. An alternative Australian winter rainfall relay cropping system coined pasture cropping (PaCr) was identified as an option that may surmount some of these limitations.This research involved completing a field trial through to model scale introductory assessment of the water dynamics in PaCr and the implications thereof in yield, water use efficiency (WUE) and competition for water ; ultimately assessing the potential of PaCr in SSA. PaCr was adapted to an intercropping system for SSA summer rainfall conditions. The three treatments included the representative subsistence crop cowpea (Vigna unguiculate) and a common indigenous pasture (Eragrostis curvula) and an additive PaCr setup of cowpea directly seeded into pasture in water limited (rainfed) field trials in Pretoria, South Africa between 2013-2015. The DM yields of PaCr were 17% and 293% higher in both seasons compared to the conventional cowpea monocrop yield. When comparing PaCr yield to conventional pasture, there was a 12% and 89% higher yield in both seasons compared to the conventional pasture monocrop yield. The greater yield advantage in 2015 with the limited rainfall indicates that PaCr was most advantageous in terms of DM yield in a drier year which is a time of greatest risk and food insecurity. PaCr was also more WUE in both seasons, being significantly higher than the cowpea monocrop in 2015. Competition also showed a higher degree of competitiveness by cowpea in the wetter 2013-14 season and lower competitive ability in the drier 2015, whereas pasture showed little competitive response in 2013-14 and attaining significantly higher yields than the monocrop in 2015. The results of the field trials were used to adapt the University of Pretoria’s Soil Water Balance (SWBsci) crop model to simulate an intercropping system. Observed field results were compared to simulated results and statistical goodness of fit indicators were assessed, concluding that with all the variations of season and systems, the results were acceptable as an inaugural adaptation of the Soil Water Balance model. Other relevant crop water use parameters were extrapolated from the simulated data allowing for a more complete insight into the field trials. With the adapted SWBsci model, 14-year simulations were run in three different climates and on three different soil types for all three cropping systems to map out the viability of PaCr across an aridity index continuum as a reference for further application in research or in industry and to stress test SWBsci. Results demonstrated that PaCr was only advantageous in dry sub-humid to humid conditions on clay-loam to sandy soils, whereas pasture was dominant in more semi-arid conditions on the three different soils. Cowpea only performed better on clay soils in dry-sub humid to sub humid conditions. These advantages are attributed to differing plant water availability at various root depths suiting growth and/or competition of either one or both crops. These plant water availability differences were determined by water holding capacity of various soil types and rainfall volumes.

Mots clés  : alternative cropping system , pasture cropping , model , water use efficiency , competition


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