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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Nutrient Cycling Practices Abd Changes in Soil Properties in Crop-Livestockfarming Systems of Niger, West Africa

Author
item Powell, J Mark

Submitted to: Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 1, 2001
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: In West Africa, the manure from ruminant livestock (cattle, sheep and goats) is the most important source of nutrients for crop production. Manure is applied to cropland either by overnight corralling of livestock directly in fields between cropping seasons (to deposit both feces and urine) or by hauling manure deposited in corrals at the homestead. The feed source during the manure period is millet stover. A two-year field trial was conducted in western Niger to evaluate the effects four amendments (feces plus urine, feces only alone, millet stover and millet stover ash), three fertilizer N rates (0,15 and 30 kg N ha-1) and three tillage practices (immediate tillage, late tillage and no till) on millet yield. Average millet grain yield in immediate till plot was 30% higher than in no-till plots and was 13% greater in plots amended with feces plus urine than in plots that received feces alone. Under the less nomadic livestock management system, where animals are mostly stall fed, technology is needed to capture and transfer nutrients in animal urine to farmers' fields for cropping. The results of this study could be used by farmers to improve the capture and recycling of manure nutrients. Both tillage and corraling livestock directly in fields improves nutrient cycling in these agricultural systems that use no fertilizers.

Technical Abstract: Pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum R. (Br.) L.) is grown in West Africa on sandy, acid soils deficient in plant nutrients. In the mixed farming systems of Western Niger, livestock graze millet stover by day and deposit dung and urine directly on cropland during overnight. Kraaling of livestock is perhaps the most important way to recycle nutrients and sustain soil fertility. Three tillage practices (immediate tillage, late tillage and n till) four amendment types (dung plus urine, dung alone, millet stover and millet stover ashes) and three fertilizer N rates (0,15 and 30 kg N ha-1) were factorially combined and arranged in a split plot design. Average millet grain yield in immediate till plot was 30% higher than in no-till plots and was 13% greater in plots amended with dung plus urine than in plots that received dung alone. The highest soil pH (5.8) and lowest bulk density (1.46 g/cm3) of the surface soil (0-15cm) were measured in plots amended with dung plus urine. Under the less nomadic livestock management system, where animals are mostly stall fed, technology is needed to capture and transfer nutrients in animal urine to farmers' fields for cropping.

Last Modified: 11/21/2014
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