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Water SA

versión On-line ISSN 1816-7950
versión impresa ISSN 0378-4738


CHIMONYO, VGP; MODI, AT  y  MABHAUDHI, T. Assessment of sorghum-cowpea intercrop system under water-limited conditions using a decision support tool. Water SA [online]. 2016, vol.42, n.2, pp.316-327. ISSN 1816-7950.

Intercropping can improve crop productivity through increased water use efficiency (WUE). However, limited information exists to support its adoption and subsequent management. In such instances, crop models can be used as decision support tools to complement data from field trials. The Agricultural Production Systems Simulator Model (APSIM) was used to develop best management practices for improved yield and WUE for a sorghum-cowpea intercrop system for 5 sites in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: Richards Bay, Umbumbulu, Deepdale, Wartburg and Ukulinga. Each site represented 1 of 5 different bio-resource units. Planting dates (trigger season climate method, modelling and fixed date approaches), fertilizer rates (0, 50 and 100% recommended N rate), plant population (50% less and 50% more, for either sorghum or cowpea) and irrigation (deficit irrigation and rainfall-based approaches) were considered. In Deepdale, planting dates generated by the model gave high (952.2±85 and 326.3±68 kg-ha-1) and stable yields for sorghum and cowpea, respectively. Adding 100% fertilizer improved both yield and WUE of the intercrop by 18.5 and 5.1%, respectively, in Umbumbulu and Wartburg. Across all environments, sorghum and cowpea plant populations of 39 000 and 13 000 plants-ha-1, respectively, increased yield (26.11%) and WUE (15.54%) of the intercrop system. Deficit irrigation was more effective resulting in yield (12.84%) and WUE (11.09%) improvements. It is concluded that APSIM can be used to develop best management practices to assist in developing guidelines for improving productivity of intercrop systems under water-scarce conditions.

Palabras clave : best management practices; yield; water use efficiency.

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