Maize yields in sub-Saharan Africa have been at the lower end of the global range for decades. A new thesis by Emilio Magaia, PhD candidate at the Department of Soil and Environment at SLU presents a way to improve water use efficiency in semi-arid regions through better soil and water management.
Sub-Saharan Africa is in dire need of new technologies to increase water use efficiency in rainfed agricultural systems. Today, smallholder farmers use little or no purchased fertilisers or irrigation and are using hand tools for land preparation. The main challenge is to feed the population with existing resources and prevailing agricultural technologies.
Improving crop yield in rainfed cultivations
– Maize yields in sub-Saharan Africa have been at the lower end of the global range for decades, probably because smallholder farmers use manual cultivation techniques and little or no purchased inputs or irrigation. There is a great interest in increasing maize grain yield through a combination of different soil and water management strategies in Southern Africa, says Emilio Magaia.
In his doctoral thesis, Emilio studied the possibilities to increase maize grain yield in rainfed agriculture. The impact of supplemental irrigation, fertiliser application and three different tillage methods (hand hoeing, strip tillage, disc tillage) on maize grain yield were investigated in a sandy loam soil in a semi-arid region of Mozambique.