The Effect of Camber Bed Drainage Landforms on Soil Nutrient Distribution and Grain Yield of Maize on the Vertisols of the Accra Plains of Ghana
The Vertisols of the Accra Plains of Ghana are water logged after significant rainfall due to the low-lying topography (0.1-1 %). Camber bed (Cb) drainage landforms have been developed at the Agricultural Research Centre, Kpong, for draining off excess water. Field experiments were conducted to verify if maize growth and yield gradient from the trough to the crest were the result of nutrient gradient or some other factors. Four 5 m and two 10 m Cbs and a 20-m flatland were prepared in a split-split plot design, with landform as main plot, nutrient levels as sub plot and crop row as sub-sub plot. A pot experiment was also carried out for detailed studies. Soil movement brought about a nutrient gradient from the trough of the camber bed to the crest, and also made the soil profile homogeneous. The trough was low in nutrients, compact and prone to water logging, but nutrient levels increased through the middle slope to the crest. The flatland did not have a nutrient gradient but was prone to water logging due to its low-lying nature. Total dry matter (TDM) of maize and grain yield similarly increased from the trough to the crest. Grain yield of maize on the flatland ranged from 2.5–2.6 t ha- 1, while yields on the 5-m Cb were 3.6, 4.2 and 4.8 t ha-1 on the trough, middle slope and crest, respectively. Excess application of 15-15-15 NPK and sulphate of ammonia fertilizers (150% of recommended levels) did not appreciably increase biomass and grain yield in the troughs. However, the maize crop in pots, with soil from the trough, responded positively to fertilizer application, thus confirming that low yield in the trough was the result of both low nutrient availability and the compact subsoil.