Abdul-Ganiyu et al
Greener Journal of Agricultural Sciences, Vol. 5 (7), pp. 265-277, December 2015.
Manuscript Number: 100415139
Effects of Different Planting Distance on Soil moisture content and Yield of Maize (Zea mays L.) in Tolon District of Northern Region, Ghana
Shaibu Abdul-Ganiyu1, Benjamin Osei-Mensah1, Thomas A. Apusiga1, Hirohiko Ishikawa2, Gordana Kranjac-Berisavljevic1
1 University for Development Studies, Faculty of Agriculture, Tamale, Ghana
2 Kyoto University, Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Uji, Kyoto, Japan
Rain-fed farming systems dominate Ghanaian agriculture, especially regarding the cultivation of major staples, such as maize, yam, cassava and rice. In this environment, farmers depend strongly on seasonal rains and every alteration in precipitation distribution affects their very livelihood. Recent threats of climate change aggravate the already delicate balance of food production and security. This research determined the effects different planting distance on soil moisture and yield of maize in Tolon District. Experimental plots were laid out in randomized complete block design (RCBD), with four replicates and four treatments. The four treatments comprising different planting distance: T1 (20 x 80 cm); T2 (30 x 80 cm); T3 (40 x 80 cm) and T4 (50 x 80 cm), distributed randomly and independently in each plot. The size of each plot was 4 m by 5 m (20 m2), surrounded by bunds, with bund height of 10 cm, bottom width of 10 cm and top with of 5 cm. The space between plots was 1m. Soil moisture content was monitored using Tensiometers and Time Domain Reflectrometer, while non-weighing lysimeter used to establish the field water balance. Crop parameters monitored were plant height, number of leaves, days to 50 % tasseling and maturity, LAI, grain and biomass yields. The results indicated that there was significant difference for yield and yield-related parameters, but not on soil moisture content when maize was planted at four different planting distances. This suggested that planting distance has effects on maize yield but not soil moisture content. Maximum soil and air temperatures were within the optimum range for rain-fed maize production in the Tolon District during the field experiment. Soil moisture content was at either field capacity or near saturation throughout the various growth stages of maize, with only small amount of water lost to deep percolation. Planting at 20 cm by 80 cm distance had a higher yield, compared to the rest of the treatments. Maize famers should adopt that planting distance to maximise yield. Farmers should also be advised to start planting of maize in July, to escape the effect of early season drought on crop establishment and growth.
Keywords: Maize, Planting distance, Soil moisture content, Rain-fed, Water balance.
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