Tillage Effects on Maize Performance and Physical Properties of a Sandy Soil
The effects of six tillage methods on soil physical properties maize (Zea mays L.) germination, growth and yield were evaluated in field experiments during 1995 and 1996 cropping seasons. The selected treatments represented both conventional and conservation tillage practices common within the study area. The soil quality parameters analysed included moisture content, bulk density, porosity, shear strength and cone index. Results showed significant (P<0.05) different effects on soil physical properties studied and crop performance due to the imposed tillage treatments. The conservation tillage methods conserved more soil moisture than the conventional methods as confirmed by higher water contents under such tillage methods. However, the trend was not the same for soil strength properties. The conventional tillage methods had a more favourable soil tilth having recorded lower soil strength properties in relation to the conservation methods. This was attributed to their higher level of soil pulverization. With the exception of no-tillage method, the conservation tillage methods compared very favourably with the conventional tillage methods in terms of crop growth and yield. This study revealed that it is possible to adopt alternative tillage systems to prevent soil physical degradation, while achieving a comparable level of crop performance.
Key words: Soil tillage, Soil quality, maize performance