Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Effects of crop rotation and fallow residue management on maize growth, yield and soil carbon in a savannah-forest transition zone of Ghana

  • S. G. K. ADIKU (a1) (a2), J. W. JONES (a1), F. K. KUMAGA (a3) and A. TONYIGAH (a3)

The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effects of seven maize (Zea mays)–fallow rotation and fallow residue management treatments on growth, maize yield and soil carbon within a savannah-forest farming zone of Ghana. Over a 4-year period, maize rotated with bare fallow (control) produced an average maize biomass and yield of 4·0 and 1·0 t/ha/yr, respectively. Maize rotated with elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureum) with the fallow grass residue burning produced an average maize biomass and yield of 8·0 and 2·0 t/ha/yr, respectively. The removal of the fallow grass biomass (9·0 t/ha/yr) by burning resulted in a low total residue (maize stover+fallow residue) returned to the soil (7·0 t/ha/yr). The total residue returned to the soil was 14·0 t/ha/yr. Despite the larger total residue returned to the soil by the incorporation treatment, the performance of the maize was not significantly different from that of the fallow residue burning treatment. Maize rotated with cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), mucuna (Mucuna pruriens) or pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan) produced similar maize biomass of 8·0 t/ha/yr and yields of 2·0 t/ha/yr, but with higher variability for the maize–cowpea rotation. Biomass produced by fallow cowpea, mucuna or pigeon pea were 4·0, 5·0 and 8·0 t/ha/yr, respectively, and total residues added to the soil were 13·0, 13·0 and 15·0 t/ha/yr, respectively. Maize–grass rotation with fertilizer application to the maize resulted in biomass and yield production of 11·0 and 3·0 t/ha/yr, respectively, and fallow grass production of 12·0 t/ha/yr. The total residue returned to the soil was 18·0 t/ha/yr. Soil organic carbon (SOC) declined under all treatments over time, with the control losing about 55% of the initial SOC by the end of the trial. The decline in SOC was 19% for the fertilized maize–grass rotation, but all other treatments lost between 33 and 44% SOC. Overall, the fertilized maize–grass and maize–pigeon pea rotations were identified as those that sustained relatively high maize yields, returned large residue amounts to the soil and minimized soil carbon loss.

Corresponding author
*To whom all correspondence should be addressed. Email: and
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

N. Ae , J. Arihara , K. Okada , T. Yoshihara & C. Johansen (1990). Phosphorus uptake by pigeon pea and its role in cropping systems of the Indian subcontinent. Science 248, 477480.

W. Bandaranayake , Y. L. Qian , W. J. Parton , D. S. Ojima & R. F. Follet (2003). Estimation of soil organic carbon in turf grass systems using CENTURY MODEL. Agronomy Journal 95, 558563.

E. A. Brams (1971). Continuous cultivation of West African soils: Organic matter diminution and effects of applied lime and phosphorus. Plant and Soil 35, 401414.

R. H. Bray & L. T. Kurz (1945). Determination of total organic and available forms of phosphorus in soils. Soil Science 59, 3945.

E. K. Cheruiyot , L. M. Mumera , L. N. Nakhone & S. M. Mwonga (2003). Effect of legume-managed fallow on weeds and soil nitrogen in following maize (Zea mays L.) and wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) crops in the Rift Valley highlands of Kenya. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 43, 597604.

P. P. Chivenge , H. K. Murwira , K. E. Giller , P. Mapfumo & J. Six (2007). Long-term impact of reduced tillage and residue management on soil carbon stabilization: implications for conservation agriculture on contrasting soils. Soil and Tillage Research 94, 328337.

S. Covaleda , S. Pajares , J. F. Gallardo & J. D. Etchevers (2006). Short-term changes in C and N distribution in soil particle size fractions induced by agricultural practices in cultivated volcanic soil from Mexico. Organic Geochemistry 37, 19431948.

S. Ishikawa , J. J. Adu-Gyamfi , T. Nakamura , T. Yoshihara , T. Watanabe & T. Wagatsuma (2002). Genotypic variability in phosphorus solubilising activity of root exudates by pigeon pea grown in low-nutrient environments. Plant and Soil 245, 7181.

R. Lal (1974). Soil temperature, soil moisture and maize yield from mulched and unmulched soils. Plant and Soil 40, 129143.

R. Lal (2006). Enhancing crop yields in developing countries through restoration of the organic carbon pools in agricultural lands. Land Degradation and Development 17, 197209.

R. J. Lascano & R. L. Baumhardt (1996). Effects of crop residue on soil and plant water evaporation in a dryland cotton system. Theoretical and Applied Climatology 54, 6984.

M. A. Liebig , J. A. Morgan , J. D. Reeder , B. H. Ellert , H. T. Gollany & G. E. Schuman (2005). Greenhouse gas contributions and mitigation potential of agricultural practices in northwestern USA and western Canada. Soil and Tillage Research 83, 2552.

H. T. Riezebos & A. C. Loerts (1998). Influence of land use change and tillage practice on soil organic matter in southern Brazil and eastern Paraguay. Soil and Tillage Research 49, 271275.

T.-G. Vågen , R. Lal & B. R. Singh (2005). Soil carbon sequestration in sub-Saharan Africa: a review. Land Degradation Development 16, 5371.

A. Walkley & I. A. Black (1934). Determination of organic matter in the soil by chromic acid digestion. Soil Science 63, 251264.

W. R. Wright & J. E. Foss (1972). Contributions of clay and organic matter to the cation exchange capacity of Maryland soils. Soil Science Society of America Journal 36, 115118.

X. M. Yang & M. M. Wander (1999). Tillage effects on soil organic carbon distribution and storage in a silt loam soil in Illinois. Soil and Tillage Research 52, 19.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Journal of Agricultural Science
  • ISSN: 0021-8596
  • EISSN: 1469-5146
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-agricultural-science
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 1
Total number of PDF views: 21 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 79 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 21st September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.