Effect of in-situ soil moisture conservation practices on soil moisture storage and yield of maize (Zea mays L.) in a rainfed foothill region of North-West India. (37)
Keywords:Mulching, Tillage, Maize, Yields, Soil moisture storage, Rainfed region
AbstractExtreme variation in rainfall distribution during the summer monsoon often results in water stress conditions which affects crop yields. Field experiments were conducted during 2001 and 2002 in rainfed foothill region of North-West India to evaluate different tillage and mulching practices in relation to in-situ soil moisture conservation and productivity of rainfed maize. Soil moisture storage increased to the tune of 2.25, 4.01, and 10.77% at 60 days after sowing (DAS) with shallow tillage, deep tillage, and ridge and furrow sowing treatment over the farmers' practice. The application of mulch on the whole-covered plot resulted in 48.4, 61, and 138% higher soil moisture content at 40, 60, and 80 DAS, respectively. An increase of 18.2, 33.1, and 49.9% in plant height was observed with shallow tillage, deep tillage, and ridge and furrow sowing treatment over farmers' practice. It was also observed that fully-covered plots had 156% higher dry matter yield of maize compared to unmulched plots. There was a 10.6% increase in maize grain yield in ridge and furrow sowing over the farmers' practice. Mulch spread on the whole plot increased the grain and straw yield of maize by 58.6 and 35.0% compared to unmulched control. Grain and straw yield in partial-covered and strip application of mulch was significantly higher by 30.0 and 28.3% and 31.4 and 25.3%, respectively, than in no-mulching treatments. The results can usefully be employed to optimize the use of available mulch and appropriate tilling for improving maize productivity.