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Alley cropping sequentially cropped maize and cowpea with leucaena leucocephala on a sandy soil in southern nigeria

Alley cropping sequentially cropped maize and cowpea with leucaena leucocephala on a sandy soil in southern nigeria

Plant & Soil 85(2): 267-278

The potential of alley cropping maize and cowpea with the giant Leucaena (L. leucocephala (Lam) de Wit) cultivar K-28 was studied on an Entisol (Psammentic Ustorthent) in southern Nigeria. In this trial the crops were grown in 4 m wide alleys formed by periodically pruned leucaena hedgerows. The effect of application of leucaena prunings, N fertilizer and tillage was studied. Despite the very intensive pruning regime (5 prunings/year) for a 6 yr period, the leucaena hedgerows continue to produce substantial amounts of prunings, N yield and stakes. Application of N to the maize crop increased dry matter and N yield from the leucaena prunings. Although high N yield was obtained from the prunings, the application of low N rates was still needed for obtaining a high maize yield. Maize grain yield can be sustained at .apprx. 2.0 t/ha with continuous application of leucaena prunings only. Without application of leucaena prunings and N maize yield continued to decline with subsequent croppings. Cowpea grain yield was not affected either by leucaena prunings or by residual N. Tillage (rototilling) resulted in either higher or the same maize and cowpea yields as compared with no-tillage. Application of leucaena prunings resulted in higher soil moisture retention, organic matter, exchangeable K, Ca, Mg and also nitrate levels in the soil solution. Leucaena and maize appear to extract soil moisture from different zones in the soil. Timely pruning of hedgerows is necessary to minimize shading.

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