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Three field experiments to investigate the partial nutrient balance (N and K) in cassava/soybean intercrop system were conducted at University of Nigeria, Nsukka in a derived Savannah location of South Eastern Nigeria. Effect of fertilizer rate, residual fertilizer and soybean residue management on growth and yield of soybean and cassava and soil nutrient reserve were studied. Soybean growth and yield were significantly affected by their varieties,
fertilizer rate and cropping system but not by cassava variety. Application of fertilizer at 50 Kg ha-1
fertilizer rate gave the highest soybean total dry matter (898.24 Kg ha-1), highest grain yield (156.91 Kg
ha-1) and highest fresh cassava tuber yield (30.7 t ha-1) at 12 months after planting (MAP). Intercropping cassava variety (NR 8230) with medium maturing variety of soybean, (TGX 1894-3E)
gave the highest grain yield of soybean (133.60 Kg ha-1), highest fresh tuber yield of cassava (30.8 t.ha-
1) at 12 MAP, highest N and K balances (+44.06 and +72.70 Kg.ha-1), highest LER of 2.71 and ATER
of 2.10 at 50 Kg K.ha-1 fertilizer rate. The effect of residual fertilizer on soybean plant height, litter
weight and shoot dry weight was highest at 45 Kg N.ha-1 and 50 Kg K.ha-1 fertilizer rate, while soybean
grain yield of 204.1 Kg.ha-1 was highest at residual 50 Kg K.ha-1 fertilizer rate. Also, cassava leaf-N
(4.05%) and cassava stem-K (2.8%) were highest at residual 45 Kg N.ha-1and 50 Kg K.ha-1, while
cassava tuber yield at 12 MAP was highest (24.27 t.ha-1) at residual. 50 Kg K.ha-1 Soil nitrogen
increased from 0.04%N to 0.34%N and soil- pH from 4.2 to 6.6 at sole soybean. In sole cassava, soil-N decreased from 0.04% initial soil-N to 0.03%N but soil-N under 3 year natural fallow was unchanged. Residual fertilizer affected nitrogen balance of sole cassava which was negative, while intercrop had positive nitrogen balance at all residual fertilizer rates. Potassium balance was positive with intercrop at all residual fertilizer rates except at no fertilizer. Incorporation of soybean residue into cassava/soybean
intercrop system increased cassava tuber yield and soil nutrient status and resulted in positive N and K
balances. Analysing of nutrient stock: balance (NSB) ratio revealed that fertilizer rate of 50 Kg K ha-1 in the first year of cassava/soybean intercrop followed with incorporation of residue in the subsequent
year (without further application of fertilizer) gave the highest dynamic reserve of 310.6 Kg N ha-1 and
311.64 Kg K ha-1. Under sole soybean, production can be sustained for 15 years (NSB ratio 14.58),
while under intercropped system production can be sustained for 9 years for nitrogen and 9 years for
potassium (N balance of +62.64 Kg ha-1 and K balance of +87.66 Kg ha-1). Sole cassava without fertilization and no residue incorporation can be sustained for one year with NSB: ratio of 0.88.
Nutrient monitoring (NUTMON) is an integrated methodology that targets different factors in the process of managing soil nutrients and other natural resources in agriculture (Vlaaming et al., 2001). With the NUTMON methodology, farmers and researchers analyse the environmental and financial sustainability of farming systems. A quantitative analysis generates important indicators such as nutrient flows, nutrient balances, cash flow, gross margins and farm income. Both the quantitative and qualitative analysis are then used to improve or design new technologies that tackle soil fertility management problems and can help improve the financial performance of the farm. Manipulation of nutrient ‘stock and flows’ of farm lands is vital in the derived Savannah zone. Soil organic matter (SOM) in the farms, which accounts for the major cation exchange capacity and nitrogen content of the soil are not often replenished as they decline from crop cycle to crop cycle. The soil therefore becomes rapidly degraded and highly weathered especially where inorganic fertilizers become the major methods for soil nutrient replenishment. According to FAO (2003), agricultural intensification without adequate restoration of soil fertility threatens the sustainability of agriculture. A nutrient input-output balance analysis will therefore help in predicting the sustainability.
Guillard et al. (1995) reported that traditional farming system is a concept that will be developed. This concept is mostly based on ecological principles of constant utilization of all tropic levels. Some approaches to the concept have been reported by Defoer et al. (2000) as integrated nutrient management (INM) and integrated soil fertility management (ISFM). Both concepts included intercropping and biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) as part of input data. By the application of these concepts in any agricultural system, the system should maintain sustainable mineral availability in the soil and results in a balanced nutrient management system (BNMS), (IITA, 1997).
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