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Effects of cattle manure on selected soil physical properties of smallholder farms on two soils of Murewa, Zimbabwe

N. Dunjana, P. Nyamugafata, A. Shumba, J. Nyamangara, S. Zingore
Soil use and management 2012 v.28 no.2 pp. 221-228
sandy soils, clay soils, farm area, soil organic carbon, small-scale farming, farms, cattle manure, bulk density, corn, sandy clay soils, grain yield, soil treatment, aggregate stability, Zimbabwe
The effects of cattle manure and inorganic N‐fertilizer application on soil organic carbon (SOC), bulk density, macro‐aggregate stability and aggregate protected carbon were determined on clay and sandy soils of the Murewa smallholder farming area, Zimbabwe. Maize was grown in four fields termed homefields (HFs) and outfields (OFs) because of spatial variability induced by management practices and with the following fertility treatments: control (no fertility amelioration), 5, 15 and 25 t/ha cattle manure + 100 kg/ha N applied annually for seven consecutive years. The addition of cattle manure resulted in significant (P < 0.01) increases in SOC, macro‐aggregate stability and aggregate protected carbon in clay soils from at least the 5 t/ha cattle manure rate and was comparable between HFs and OFs on clay soils. Aggregate protected carbon in clay soils was significantly higher from the 15 and 25 t/ha cattle manure rates compared to the 5 t/ha cattle manure treatment. In contrast, only SOC was significantly (P < 0.05) increased with the addition of cattle manure on the sandy soils, while bulk density, macro‐aggregate stability and aggregate protected carbon were not significantly changed. Bulk density was also not significantly (P > 0.05) different on the clay soils. A significant and positive linear relationship (r2 = 0.85) was found between SOC and macro‐aggregate stability, while an r2 value of 0.82 was obtained between SOC and aggregate protected carbon on the clay soils. However, no regressions were performed on data from the sandy soils because of the lack of significant changes in soil physical properties. Application of cattle manure and inorganic N‐fertilizer significantly increased (P < 0.05) maize grain yield on both soil types. Results show that inorganic N‐fertilizer combined with cattle manure at 5–15 t/ha per yr is necessary to increase maize yields and SOC on sandy soils in Murewa, while at least 15 t/ha per yr cattle manure is required on the clay soils to improve physical properties in addition to maize yields and SOC.