Effects of Water Conservation Methods and Cropping Systems on the Growth and Yield of Maize and Beans
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Maize and beans form a significant part of the diet for thousands of households in Uganda and neighbouring countries, but the yields of these crops have been greatly affected by erratic rains and prolonged droughts. Irrigation schemes are often prohibitively expensive for small-scale farmers in Uganda and elsewhere. Low-cost water conservation practices such as double digging and mulching and effective cropping systems have the potential to enhance the production and yield of maize and beans under variable rainfall conditions without requiring capital input from farmers. This article reports on investigating the effect of double digging, mulching and intercropping systems on the growth and yields of maize and beans in Wairaka, Jinja District, Uganda. Using a randomized complete block design with three replications of the treatments, we collected data on the plant growth and yield parameters. The results showed that the growth of maize and beans were found to be higher in double digging, intercropping, and mulching. Double digging increased maize and beans plant heights by 0.91% and 20.78% respectively over single digging. Similarly, the cob length, total maize yields, seeds per pod, and total bean yields by 4.79%, 0.57%, 39.39%, 3.01% was enhanced double digging, respectively. Inter-cropping of maize and beans increased the maize plant height, cob length and total maize yield by 0.54%, 5.52%, and 2.43% respectively over maize monocrop while the bean plant height, seeds per pod and the total were increased by 4.33%, 22.86%, and 3.26% respectively over bean monocrop. Mulch significantly affected the growth and yields of both maize and beans. The mean increase in maize plant height was 1.36% and 0.29%, and bean plant height was 12.76%, and 7.06% in the case of dry banana leaves and dry grass, as compared to the control (no mulch). The mean cob length difference and total maize yields were 4.96%, 2.90% and 1.57% 0.93% while the seeds per pod and total bean yields were 25% and 12.5% and 5.00% and 3.68% in the case of dry banana leaves and dry grass, respectively, over the control (no mulch). The low-cost methods we investigated, mainly double digging, dry banana leaves mulches, and maize-bean intercrop, are promising in ensuring yields against erratic rainfall and drought and can be recommended to farmers.
International Journal of Recent Research in Interdisciplinary Sciences (IJRRIS)