Intensification of conservation agriculture systems for increased livestock feed and maize production in Zimbabwe
Mupangwa, W.; Thierfelder, C.
Livestock and crops are key components of mixed farming systems and are a source of household food and income. However, mixed farming systems face livestock feed shortages and low soil productivity challenges. Conservation agriculture (CA) systems based on minimum soil disturbance, crop residue retention and crop rotations offer an opportunity to grow both fodder and food crops on the available land to improve productivity and crop output per-unit area. A four-year experiment involving maize monocropping as control treatment and four relay or intercropping treatments with different legume and fodder crops was set up on contrasting soils in Zimbabwe. Lablab was superior in biomass production compared with radish on both soil types. On the clay soil, continuous maize, sole lablab, sole radish, maize/lablab relay and radish/common beans relay treatments produced similar biomass when soil moisture was adequate. When soil moisture was limiting, lablab produced more biomass than continuous maize, radish, maize/lablab relay and radish/beans relay treatments on clay soil. On sandy soils, lablab produced more biomass than continuous maize, radish, maize/lablab relay and radish/beans relay treatments. Leguminous and non-leguminous fodder crops can be grown successfully in CA systems that are being promoted in the mixed crop/livestock farming systems of southern Africa.