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An Assessment of Intercropping and Fertilization in Cassava - (Manihot esculenta) Based Systems in the Kolli Hills, South India Open Access


Other title
Fertilizer Amendments
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Harms, Tina
Supervisor and department
Dyck, Miles (Renewable Resources)
Examining committee member and department
Hernandez Ramirez, Guillermo (Renewable Resources)
MacKenzie, Derek (Renewable Resources)
Department of Renewable Resources
Soil Science
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
There is much interest in reducing risk, increasing yield and maintaining soil fertility and biodiversity in agriculture. The effects of intercropping cassava (M. esculenta crantz) with beans (Phaseolus spp), millet (E. coracana) or a bean-millet mixture with the use of various soil amendment treatments; manure, manure and synthetic fertilizer, synthetic fertilizer or mulch under a rainfed cropping system were investigated over a two year period in Kolli Hills, South India. Physical and chemical properties of soil, bean protein content, cassava leaf nutrients and starch content, and marginal rates of return were assessed. Results varied greatly across sites and seasons. Intercropping with millets significantly reduced crop yields in Mathyriolovo and Oleyur; mean yields in year one and two were higher when synthetic fertilizer and a combination of fertilizer and manure were applied; during year two, the greatest yield increase resulted from mulching. Intercropping with millets had both negative and positive impacts on soil: lowering available N, and exchangeable Mn, while showing increases in available P in various sites. When bean with millets were intercropped with cassava, there were significant increases in soil exchangeable Na, available P, EC, Cu and exchangeable K in comparison to other treatments. Manure resulted in a significant increase in soil pH, and a decrease in Zn; the addition of synthetic fertilizer resulted in an increase in soil EC in various sites. Results of principal component analysis (PCA) showed that soil Zn, clay content, CEC, Cu, pH and available K accounted for the greatest amount of variation in samples and the resultant soil quality index (SQI) for cassava production in the Kolli Hills. Economic analysis highlighted the great variation between site and seasons; fertilizer and manure plus fertilizer intercropped with millets or bean and millets having the highest marginal rate of return in year one, while sole cropping of cassava under a mulch treatment provided a positive return in year two. Based on soil properties, crop qualities and economics cassava based cropping systems may be improved by various intercropping systems and soil amendments; however, the great variation in soil, climate, availability of inputs and the needs of the smallholder farmer need to be considered prior to forming overall management recommendations.
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