Impact of maize based intercrop systems on soil physiochemical properties
Akena, Simon Peter
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Low crop yields in the Eastern parts of Uganda have been attributed to, among other factors, low soil fertility. The adoption of integrated soil fertility management technologies such as maize-legume intercropping system is being promoted as one of the options to address low crop productivity and soil fertility depletion among the farmers of this region. However, the impact of different maize based intercrop systems on soil physiochemical properties are not yet completely understood. Analysis of the impacts of common maize based intercrops on soil physiochemical properties in agricultural ecosystems can help in development of novel intercrop systems as part of ISFM packages through determination of soil quality dynamics under these systems. This study aimed to determine the effects of Maize-soya, maize-bean, maize-Desmodium intercropping on soil physiochemical properties and their effectiveness in soil quality maintenance. The study was undertaken in farmers’ fields in Iganga district. The field experiments were carried out in a randomized complete block design with four treatments each replicated four times. The treatments were M+B = Maize + Bean, M+D = Maize + Desmodium (Desmodium titortium), M+S = Maize + Soya beans and M+M = Maize Mono. Data was collected on TN, OM, pH available P, exchangeable cations (Na+, K +, Ca2+) and soil structure quality. Processed data were subjected to statistical analyses using GenStat Discovery Edition 14 statistical package. There were no significant differences in soil chemical and physical property between the treatments at P ≤ 0.05 except the level of exchangeable K which was significantly affected by the treatments. The M+D intercrop had the highest SOM 2.81% compared to the other intercrops and monocrop. The maize intercrop showed a higher increase in TN, P and K contents compared to the initial levels. The results obtained in this study also indicated that Maize-Desmodium combination had an improvement in soil quality relative to the initial soil condition and therefore could be a good alternative in maintaining soil quality for farmers in Iganga District.