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Intensifying legume/cereal cropping systems in Malawi


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Presentation by Regis Chikowo, Christian Thierfelder, Wezi Mhango and Rowland Chirwa at the Africa RISING ESA Project Review and Planning Meeting, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 11-12 September 2019.

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Intensifying legume/cereal cropping systems in Malawi

  1. 1. Intensifying legume/cereal cropping systems in Malawi Regis Chikowo1, Christian Thierfelder2, Wezi Mhango3, and Rowland Chirwa4 1Michigan State University (MSU), 2International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), 3Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), 4International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) Africa RISING ESA Project review and planning meeting 11 – 12 September 2019, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
  2. 2. Legumes and sustainability • Legume integration in maize based systems increase soil health and productivity • Groundnut, soyabean, pigeonpea are now widely grown in Malawi. • Low yields reported due to constraints such as poor soil fertility, low plant density, poor seed • High N content legume residues (even in small quantities) have a large effect on N cycling and SOC development • SOC status explains a large proportion of poor crop yields, as it determines early crop growth and regulates soil N and P availability
  3. 3. Alarming yield gaps Crop Actual yields (t/ha) Attainable yields (t/ha) Maize 1 4+ Soyabean 0.6 1.8+ Groundnut 0.6 1.5+
  4. 4. The story I love to tell
  5. 5. Double row groundnut
  6. 6. Introducing improved germplasm and appropriate management - the possibilities..
  7. 7. Maize/bean intercropping
  8. 8. And if complexity is increased, how are soil processes impacted? What about SI indicators…
  9. 9. Pigeonpea integration…
  10. 10. Pigeonpea belowground biomass assessments 0 - 20 cm 20 - 40 cm 40 - 60 cm
  11. 11. Legume-based cropping systems and soil aggregation/SOC sequestration Agglomeration of soil particles + OM to form micro- aggregates (occlusion of OM) Agglomeration of micro-aggregates to form macro-aggregates POM (plant debris) soil particles plant roots enmeshing macro- aggregates mucilage + root exudates fungal hyphae
  12. 12. The underlying biochemical process
  13. 13. We need this at scale
  14. 14. Yield, stability and nitrogen use efficiency of maize in response to different legume technologies
  15. 15. Refining groundnut agronomy Factors • Seed quality : recycled and certified • Density : single row and double row • Varieties : Nsinjiro and CG7 Study sites: • Dedza – Linthipe EPA (medium-High Potential) • Machinga- Ntubwi EPA (low potential)
  16. 16. Single or double row groundnut production –is there a seed quality effect? The picture can't be displayed.
  17. 17. Refining groundnut agronomy…….. 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 certified recycled certified recycled DOUBLE ROW SINGLE ROW Yield(kg/ha)
  18. 18. Bean grain yield and yield components in pure stand and maize bean intercrop 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1800 2000 SER 83 D om w e N U A 45 M A C M aize+D om w e M aize+N U A 45 M aize+SER 83 M aize+M A C KG/HA Total Biomass Pod weight Grain yield
  19. 19. Maize grain yield in pure stand and maize-bean intercrop – maize yield penalty large with NUA45 0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 M aizeM aize+M A C 109 M aize+S ER 83M aize+D om w e M aize+N U A 45 KG/HA
  20. 20. Getting extra benefits with conservation agriculture
  21. 21. Improved maize legume systems under conservation agriculture
  22. 22. Research Questions in the CA trials • How to sustainbly intensify maize-legume farming systems under CA in Southern and Central Malawi? • What are their effects on productivty, profitability, the environment as well as social and human indicators? • What is their longer term effect on water-and nutrient-use efficiency, climate resilience, reduction in soil degradation, pest and weed dynamics?
  23. 23. CIMMYT‘s regional trials on CA In Malawi: • Work in 10 target communities with 6 trial replicates in each • Setup in paired-plot designs testing two CA options against a conventional control • All maize-based systems: rotated with groundnut/ pigeonpea doubled-up systems in Central • Rotated with pigeonpea or cowpea in Southern Malawi
  24. 24. During field tours.....
  25. 25. Average maize yields in Central and Southern Malawi in on-farm trials
  26. 26. Legume response in Central and Southern Malawi
  27. 27. SOC is a good proxy for soil productivity
  28. 28. Precision agriculture through hand-held reflectometer monitoring of soil organic carbon • SI technologies improve SOC • However, quick ways to get SOC content have remained elusive • More than 1,100 soil samples from Central and Southern Malawi were scanned using the OurSci Reflectometer • A regression model was trained to predict whether SOC was over or under a 1% C threshold.
  29. 29. Precision agriculture through hand-held monitoring of soil organic carbon
  30. 30. Conclusions • Farmers grow more maize by growing more legumes (its about efficiencies) • Refining agronomic practices and understanding farmer preferences is important • Where possible, CA can be implemented to reap more land management benefits • We have found a panacea to the problem of lack of data on SOC – we are piloting to scale the hand help reflectometer up with Malawi Government
  31. 31. Africa Research in Sustainable Intensification for the Next Generation This presentation is licensed for use under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence. Thank You