Agronomic and economic evaluation of permanent raised beds, no tillage and straw mulching for an irrigated maize-wheat system in northwest India.

Experimental Agriculture (Impact Factor: 1.07). 01/2012; 48(1):21-38. DOI: 10.1017/S0014479711000809

ABSTRACT No-tillage and raised beds are widely used for different crops in developed countries. A field experiment
was conducted on an irrigated maize-wheat system to study the effect of field layout, tillage and straw
mulch on crop performance, water use efficiency and economics for five years (2003–2008) in northwest
India. Straw mulch reduced the maximum soil temperature at seed depth by about 3 ◦C compared to the
no mulch. During the wheat emergence, raised beds recorded 1.3 ◦C higher soil temperature compared
to the flat treatments. Both maize and wheat yields were similar under different treatments during all the
years. Maize and wheat planted on raised beds recorded about 7.8% and 22.7% higher water use efficiency
than under flat layout, respectively. Straw mulch showed no effect on water use and water use efficiency in
maize. The net returns from the maize-wheat system were more in no tillage and permanent raised beds
than with conventional tillage. Bulk density and cumulative infiltration were more in no tillage compared
with conventional tillage.

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    Advances in Agronomy 01/2011; 117:315-369. · 5.02 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Under irrigated Mediterranean conditions, no-tillage permanent bed planting (PB) is a promising agriculture system for improving soil protection and for soil carbon sequestration. However, soil compaction may increase with time up to levels that reduce crop yield. The aim of this study was to evaluate the mid-term effects of PB on soil compaction, root growth, crop yield and carbon sequestration compared with conventionally tilled bed planting (CB) and with a variant of PB that had partial subsoiling (DPB) in a Typic Xerofluvents soil ( Soil Survey Staff, 2010) in southern Spain. Traffic was controlled during the whole study and beds, and furrows with (F + T) and without traffic (F − T), were spatially distinguished during measurements. Comparisons were made during a crop sequence of maize (Zea mays L.)—cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.)—maize, corresponding to years 4–6 since trial establishment. After six years, soil compaction was higher in PB than in CB, particularly under the bed (44 and 27% higher in top 0.3- and 0.6-m soil layers, respectively). Around this time, maize root density at early grain filling was 17% lower in PB than in CB in the top 0.6-m layer. In DPB, the subsoiling operation was not effective in increasing root density. Nevertheless, root density appeared to maintain above-ground growth and yield in both PB and DPB compared to CB. Furthermore, at the end of the study, more soil organic carbon was stocked in PB than in CB and the difference increased significantly with a depth down to 0.5 m (5.7 Mg ha−1 increment for the top 0.5-m soil layer). Residues tended to accumulate on furrows, and this resulted in spatial and temporal differences in superficial soil organic carbon concentration (SOC) in the permanent planting systems. In PB, SOC in the top 0.05-m layer increased with time faster in furrows than on beds, and reached higher stable values (1.67 vs. 1.09% values, respectively). In CB, tillage homogenized the soil and reduced SOC in the top 0.05-m layer (average stable value of 0.96% on average for beds and furrows).
    European Journal of Agronomy 11/2014; 61:24–34. · 2.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Intensive soil tillage and mismanagement of irrigation water and fertilizers are increasing production costs, reducing soil fertility and crop water productivity and threatening the sustainability of crop production systems in the irrigated arid lands of Uzbekistan, Central Asia. Conservation agriculture (CA) practices combined with optimum nitrogen (N) management can counterbalance some of these adverse effects. Most work has been done in rainfed areas so there is less information available for irrigated production systems. This study compared the effects of tillage, crop residue management and N rates on yield and water productivity for irrigated cotton, winter wheat and maize grown in a two-year rotational sequence in Uzbekistan under CA practices vs. current conventional farmer practices. Permanently raised beds (PB) and conventional tillage (CT) were compared under two crop residue levels (retained residue – RR and removed residue – RH), and three N levels (zero, medium and high, with actual rates depending on the crops) on a sandy loam to loam soil. Raw cotton yield, yield components and water productivity were not affected by tillage methods. However, the following crops, wheat and maize, produced 12 and 42% higher grain yields, respectively, under PB than under CT. Under PB, water productivity increased in wheat by 27% and in maize by 84%, while 11% less water was applied during wheat and 23% during maize production, compared to CT. All three crops showed a considerable increment in yield and water productivity when N fertilizer levels were increased from zero to medium N application, and a relatively much lower increment when the N rate was doubled from medium to high N, for both tillage methods. In maize, the response to applied N was more pronounced with PB than with CT. Irrespective of tillage method, RR increased the grain yield of wheat by 5% compared to RH. In maize, RR in PB increased grain yields by 15% compared to RH. RR had no effect for CT. The positive effect of PB and RR on yield and water productivity of wheat and maize and the lack of negative effects on cotton yield reflect that PB with RR and proper N application may be viable alternatives to the present, unsustainable conventional agriculture practices in these irrigated arid lands, assuming the patterns are confirmed in the long-run.
    Field Crops Research 08/2013; 149:105–114. · 2.61 Impact Factor

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