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Environments 2015, 2(3), 399-414; doi:10.3390/environments2030399

Mulching and Fertilization Effects on Weed Dynamics under Conservation Agriculture-Based Maize Cropping in Zimbabwe

The Soil Fertility Consortium for Southern Africa (SOFECSA), Department of Soil Science & Agricultural Engineering, University of Zimbabwe, P.O. Box MP 167, Mount Pleasant, Harare 00263, Zimbabwe
Marondera College of Agricultural Science & Technology, c/o University of Zimbabwe, P.O. Box MP 167, Mt Pleasant, Harare 00263, Zimbabwe
Oral presentation at the 1st Africa Congress on Conservation Agriculture, Session: Congress Sub-Theme Keynote Papers, Lusaka, Zambia, 18–21 March 2014.
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Amir Kassam, Saidi Mkomwa and Yu-Pin Lin
Received: 9 June 2015 / Revised: 10 August 2015 / Accepted: 11 August 2015 / Published: 25 August 2015
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1058 KB, uploaded 26 August 2015]   |  


A two-year study was conducted to assess how mulch influences weed dynamics following imposition of different fertilization treatments under three crop establishment options: (i) conventional; (ii) ripping; and (iii) basin, in a two-year maize-legume rotation. Eight treatments were imposed within each crop establishment option and received maize stover mulch applied at 0% or 30% cover before planting maize (Zea mays) or cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) as test crops. Maize received nitrogen (N) at 35, 90, or 120 kg·ha−1 and phosphorus (P) at 14 or 26 kg·ha−1 applied alone or in combination with 4 or 7 t cattle manure·ha−1, while cowpea received 8 or 17 N·kg·ha−1 and similar P rates to maize. Results indicated that both weed biomass and diversity were influenced more by fertilization than method of crop establishment. On treatments under high fertilizer application rates, or previously planted to cowpea weed biomass ranged between 220 and 400 g·m−2 under mulch and 370–510 g·m−2 (no mulch). Here species richness ranged between 7–16 and was dominated by dicotyledons. This was in contrast to biomass ranges of 75–200 g·m−2 in the low fertilized and control plots, where only one or two grass types dominated. Overall, weed densities were 6% to 51% higher under conventional tillage compared to the two conservation agriculture (CA) options, although the data indicated that mulch significantly (p < 0.05) depressed weed density by up to 70%. We concluded that mulching could be a potential mechanism for reducing weeding labor costs for smallholders and the general environmental and health concerns associated with the use of herbicides in CA systems. View Full-Text
Keywords: basins; conventional tillage; ripping; Shannon Weiner index; soil fertility; weed density; weed diversity basins; conventional tillage; ripping; Shannon Weiner index; soil fertility; weed density; weed diversity

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Mtambanengwe, F.; Nezomba, H.; Tauro, T.; Chagumaira, C.; Manzeke, M.G.; Mapfumo, P. Mulching and Fertilization Effects on Weed Dynamics under Conservation Agriculture-Based Maize Cropping in Zimbabwe. Environments 2015, 2, 399-414.

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