Crop residue management and farm productivity in smallholder crop-livestock system of dry land North Wollo, Ethiopia

Submitted by charlotte.schilt on Tue, 10/09/2018 - 12:19

Farmers at Chorie, North Wollo, are smallholders engaged in a mixed crop-livestock system.  In Ethiopia, smallholder crop-livestock farming systems produce about 90% of the total grain production and keep 70%  the livestock. Mixed farming systems also support two-third of the world population. Despite the importance of the system, the tradeoffs between food and feed productions are major constraints for system sustainability. The general objective of this study is to explore and analyze crop residue and manure management practices and their influence on farm productivity. Data on resource allocation and other socio-economic aspects were gathered using semi-structured questionnaire. Current biomass production, N content and digestibility of crop residues (teff straw  and different parts of sorghum stover) and soil nutrient status of the area were studied from fields of sixteen farmers. Yield data were collected at normal harvesting period of the main cropping season by taking samples using quadrants of sizes 0.25m2 for teff and 1m2 for sorghum. Soil samples were performed using Edelman auger from the top 0-30 cm depth. Different varieties of teff and sorghum were sampled. Accordingly, from teff varieties, Sikuar magna  produces higher grain (P=0.001) and both Sikuar magna and Abat magna produce higher straw (P=0.000) yields. However, Tikurie showed higher straw digestibility than Abat magna(P=0.040). From sorghum varieties, Jigurtie produces higher grain yield (P=0.000) whereas Abola produces higher stover yield (P=0.000). In N content, significant differences were observed at leaf sheath (P=0.023), middle and lower stem parts (P=0.014; 0.036 respectively); whereas, in digestibility, differences are only at lower stem parts (P =0.029). High percentage of maize and sorghum grains are used for home  consumption but teff grain is used for sale. About 90% of teff straw, 74% sorghum and 81% of maize stovers are used for livestock feed as stubble grazing and stall feeding. Allocation of sorghum stover for fuel is high next to livestock feed. Manure sharing is about 46% and 28% for fuel and for fertilizer respectively; the remaining is left un-used. Nutrient contents and physical structures of arable plots are declining. To reverse this situation, farmers should retain about 70% of crop residues in the field; but retention should ensure incorporation into the soil. Scarcities of feed, fire wood, labor;  gender of a household head and open access to crop residues are influencing factors for making decisions. Therefore, the study area needs strong interventions to: a) increase biomass production to satisfy the competing uses of crop residues, b) improve manure usage as fertilizer, c) enhance soil and water conservation practices, d) diversify alternative livestock feeds and energy sources, and e) introduce legal support for crop residues property right and for land renting/sharing agreements.

Hailu Terefe Diressie


crop residue; feed, livestock, manure, soil fertility, farm type, main crop plots
Mark van Wijk, Diego Valbuena Vargas