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The Effects of Soil Organic Matter Management Practices on Soil Properties and Yellow Cassava Yield in an Acacia Agroforestry System in Kinshasa Province, D.R. Congo

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Title: The Effects of Soil Organic Matter Management Practices on Soil Properties and Yellow Cassava Yield in an Acacia Agroforestry System in Kinshasa Province, D.R. Congo
Author: Syauswa Musondoli, Daniel
Department: School of Environmental Design and Rural Development
Program: Rural Studies
Advisor: Hambly Odame, Helen
Abstract: To date, little research in tropical agroforestry has assessed the effects of Acacia auriculiformis, a leguminous tree, on soil fertility and biofortified cassava yield. Burning fields, before cultivation and to produce charcoal, is a traditional practice in the food insecure communities of the Ibi region in Kinshasa Province, D.R. Congo ─ the location of this study. Soil properties and tillage methods need consideration if fire exclusion can be an alternative. Three tillage methods for cassava were tested. Post-harvest cassava processing was evaluated to understand the implications of Acacia/cassava farming for food security. Results indicate no significant effects of controlled burning on soil properties and on cassava fresh yield as compared to fire exclusion. Burning acacia litter decreased C and N by 46 % and 29 %, respectively, as compared to non-burned litter, but resulted in a significant increase in pH (4.5 to 6.9) and other nutrients including Ca, K, Mg, Fe, and Mn. Mound and ridge tillage methods had significantly higher cassava yields (10.5 and 10.1 Mg/ha, respectively) as compared to flat tillage (7 Mg/ha). Areas of soil (or kilns) where A. auriculiformis was burned to produce charcoal had relatively higher soil nutrient concentrations with corresponding higher cassava yield (64.5 Mg/ha) compared to the treatments (9.2 Mg/ha), irrespective of tillage methods. Mound tillage was more labour and cost effective compared to ridge tillage. Despite high food insecurity in the Ibi region, local processing of yellow cassava is problematic which deters cultivation. A mechanical grater showed potential to reduce cassava loss and labour intensity and diversified the final product’s presentation. Overall, fire exclusion combined with mound tillage is likely an improved option for soil fertility and cassava production. Due to high nutrient concentration, kilns can simultaneously inspire the integration of charred material for agriculture and the promotion of tree planting for charcoal production and soil fertility. Further research is needed to examine litter decomposition and soil nutrient analysis over time, particularly between burning and planting and at different cassava vegetative phases. Improving soil nutrition through optimal charcoal and cassava production supports food insecure communities of the Ibi region.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10214/18008
Date: 2020-05
Rights: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International