Planting date and fertilizer type influenced soil quality indices and soybean (Glycine max L.) yields in derived savannah of Nigeria
Soybean is grown in many parts of Northern Nigeria, with little climatic challenges and soil organic matter. There is need to investigate possible influence of planting date of the crop in Southeastern Nigeria, an environment that is rather foreign to the crop. A study was carried out in 2018 and 2019 cropping seasons at Federal College of Agriculture, Ishiagu, Ebonyi State, to evaluate the influence of different planting dates and fertilizer types on selected soil physical and chemical properties, growth and yield of soybean. A split plot in a randomized complete block design was used with planting date (May and June) as the main plots, while six fertilizer types (poultry-droppings manure 5 t ha–1, swine-droppings manure 5 t ha–1, rice-husk dust 5 t ha–1, NPK 15:15:15 at 150 kg ha–1, urea at 100 kg ha–1 and the control) constituted the sub-plots. At crop maturity, some soil quality indices and pod and grain yields (t ha–1) of soybean were assessed. Soil organic carbon (SOC) and total nitrogen contents were significantly (p < 0.05) influenced by both planting date and fertilizer type in 2018 and 2019, while soil pH was improved significantly (p < 0.05) only by fertilizer type in these two cropping seasons. Mean-weight diameter of aggregates, soil bulk density and SOC stock as well as soybean yields were significantly (p < 0.05) influenced by both planting date and fertilizer type in the two seasons. Generally, planting in May improved soil total nitrogen and soybean pod yield whereas planting in June improved the other soil quality indices and soybean grain yield, the best soil amendment in either case being poultry-droppings manure but sometimes parameter-specific. The choice of planting date (May or June) in soybean production in the derived savannah and the soil amendment to use in the enterprise thus has both agronomic and environmental implications. Such a choice would depend on the indices of soil quality and/or the aspects of soybean yields (pod or grain) whose improvements the farmer intends to achieve at crop maturity.