The rate at which soil ecosystem is being degraded in crop production systems in the tropics is alarming. This study therefore attempts to assess the physico-chemical properties of soil and crop yield under agroforestry in the traditional farming systems. This was a researcher-designed, farmer-managed participatory experiment. Two farming systems (cashew/maize intercropping and sole maize cropping) were used. The two farm locations were in Wasangari village, near Saki. From 5 ha cashew plantation established in 1998 using a plant spacing of 9.0 × 9.0 m2 by the collaborating farmer, two plots of 20 × 20 m2 were mapped out for maize, intercropped at a plant spacing of 90 x 40 cm2 in 2002. Also, to a fallowed land since 1998 adjacent to cashew plantation but cultivated to sole maize in 2002 using the same plant spacing, two plots of 20 × 20 m2 were mapped out. The maize seedlings in the 4 plots were thinned to 2 stands per hole 2 weeks after planting (WAP) to give a plant population of 55,555 plants/ha. The two collaborating farmers weeded their farms 2 times (2 and 5 WAP) using hoe. The experiment was conducted over two planting seasons. Values of the soil nutrients (0 to 15 cm) evaluated before maize introduction in cashew/maize plots were significantly (p< 0.005) higher than those from sole maize plots. Also, the mean yields of maize in the intercropped plots (1.34, 1.02 t ha-1) were significantly (p < 0.05) higher than mean yields in sole maize fallowed plots (1.05, 0.81 t ha-1) in the early and late season studies respectively. The study demonstrated that intercropping maize with cashew, in the early stage serves as additional source of income to traditional farmers in the tropics.
Key words: Agroforestry, traditional farming system, cashew, soil nutrient depletion, litter falls,cashew/maize intercrop.
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