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University of the Free State (2016)

Response of maize to rainwater harvesting and conservation techniques on the Glen/Oakleaf ecotope

Chuene, Mardulate Motlalepula

Titre : Response of maize to rainwater harvesting and conservation techniques on the Glen/Oakleaf ecotope

Auteur : Chuene, Mardulate Motlalepula

Université de soutenance : University of the Free State

Grade : Magister Scientiae Agriculturae 2016

Résumé partiel
Rainfall in semi-arid areas fluctuates constantly and it is difficult for farmers to increase crop productivity. The rainfall is insufficient, erratic and unreliable, which is associated with poor water availability due to increased water losses such as high evaporation from the soil (Es) due to rising temperatures, runoff (R) and deep drainage (D). These unproductive losses (Es, R & D) contribute to inefficient rainfall, which increases food insecurity and poverty. Crops produced in semi-arid areas under rainfed agriculture by smallholder farmers are usually produced using conventional tillage (CON). This system uses a moldboard plough, which turns and exposes the soil and therefore increases Es and R while organic matter is decreasing. In many semi-arid areas, research was conducted to improve crop production. One of these researches was conducted in South Africa at the Thaba Nchu villages where the Agricultural Research Council (ARC-ISCW) introduced an In-field rainwater harvesting technique (IRWH) to increase efficiency and use of limited water. This system was used to reduce unproductive water losses especially Es and R, to optimize rainwater productivity (RWP). This study was conducted to investigate the ability of different rainwater harvesting and conservation (RWH&C) techniques to produce higher yield in using and storing water efficiently under rainfed conditions of Glen/Oakleaf ecotope. To test the hypothesis, a field experiment was conducted in a semi-arid area under rainfed conditions at the Glen/Oakleaf ecotope in Bloemfontein. The area is characterized by an average long-term (LT) rainfall in the growing period of 262 mm and an evaporation demand of 758 mm. Treatments used were In-field rainwater harvesting with a 2.0 m runoff strip (IRWH-2.0m), In-field rainwater harvesting with a 2.4 m runoff strip (IRWH-2.4m), Mechanised basins (MB), Minimal tillage (MIN), Darling plough (DAL) and Conventional tillage (CON). The experiment was conducted in two consecutive growing seasons (2008/09 & 2009/10) laid out in a complete block design (RCBD), with four replications and six treatments. The study was aimed to identify the most appropriate RWH&C techniques that will increase rainwater availability throughout the growing season to increase crop productivity by maximizing yield per unit of water. The first season had 260 mm of rainfall, and was considered a dry season, the second season was a wetter season with 486 mm. rainfall. During the first growing season rainfall was 8% lower than the LT (262 mm), while in the second season it could be considered wetter as the rainfall was 85% higher than LT.

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