Potential of hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth) to improve soil physical properties of sandy soils in central Zimbabwe

Most farmers in the smallholder areas practice conventional tillage which results in soil loss of between 10-34 t ha-1 yr-1. Tillage also results in breakdown of macroaggregates into smaller aggregates as well as primary particles. Close packing of these will increase the bulk density and decrease porosity, aeration and root development gradually over the years. These damaged and depleted soils need to be rebuilt in order to sustain agriculture and one way of rebuilding these sols is through the use of legumes such as hairy vetch. Hairy vetch (Vicia Villosa Roth) has been found to improve soil structure leading to better soil and water conservation. In this study soil aggregate stability, hydraulic conductivity and soil porosity, which all influence soil moisture retention, will be measured on soils planted with hairy vetch and maize intercrop. Soil and nutrient loss will be measured using rainfall simulation. In order to make comparisons cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) and sunhemp (Crotalaria juncea) will also be included as sole crops and as intercrops with maize. Preliminary results have so far shown that sunhemp has the highest biomass production and hairy vetch the lowest.
La plupart des agriculteurs dans les petites exploitations pratiquent le labour traditionnel qui entraine la perte de sol comprise entre 10 à 34 t ha-1 yr-1. Le labour du sol entraine également à la dépression des macroagrégats en petits agrégats, ainsi que les particules primaires. Fermer l’emballage de ceuxci va augmenter la densité apparente et diminuer la porosité, l’aération et le développement des racines peu à peu au fil des années. Ces sols endommagés et appauvris doivent être reconstruits afin de soutenir l’agriculture et un moyen de reconstruction de ces sols est l’utilisation de légumineuses comme la vesce velue. La vesce velue (Vicia Villosa Roth) a été trouvée pour améliorer la structure du sol permettant une meilleure conservation des sols et de l’eau. Dans cette étude, la stabilité des agrégats de sol, la conductivité hydraulique et la porosité du sol, qui toutes influencent la rétention de l’humidité du sol, seront mesurées sur les sols plantés de vesce velue et de maïs intercalés. La perte de sol et de nutriments sera mesurée à l’aide de simulation de pluie. Afin de faire des comparaisons, le niébé (Vigna unguiculata) et la crotalaire (Crotalaria juncea) seront également inclus en tant que cultures pures et comme cultures intercalaires de maïs. Les résultats préliminaires ont montré jusqu’à présent que la crotalaire a la plus forte production de biomasse et la vesce velue la plus basse.
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Region Focus: 
Southern Africa
RUFORUM Conferences and Workshops
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Open Access
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Printed resource

"The 2010 RUFORUM Biennial Conference was the second in the series. The main objective of the Biennial conferences is to provide a platform for agricultural research for development stakeholders in Africa and beyond to actively exchange findings and experiences, while at the same time learning lessons towards improving performance of the agricultural sector and ultimately people’s livelihoods. The biennial conference is RUFORUM’s most comprehensive meeting for the diversity of stakeholers in agriculture. It is especially dedicated to graduate students and their supervisors, grantees in RUFORUM member universities and alumni. It is a platform for peer review, quality control, mentorship, networking and shared learning. This record contains an extended abstract accepted under the theme of agronomy".