African Journal of
Agricultural Research

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Agric. Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1991-637X
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJAR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 6848

Full Length Research Paper

Production and profitability of maize and soybean grown in rotation in the North-Western Free State, South Africa

de Bruyn M. A.
  • de Bruyn M. A.
  • Department of Sustainable Food Systems and Development, University of the Free State, South Africa.
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Nel A. A.
  • Nel A. A.
  • Independent Agronomist, Potchefstroom, South Africa.
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van Niekerk J. A.
  • van Niekerk J. A.
  • Department of Sustainable Food Systems and Development, University of the Free State, South Africa.
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  •  Received: 22 November 2023
  •  Accepted: 15 December 2023
  •  Published: 29 February 2024

Abstract

The production and profitability of maize in the North-Western Free State is important for the livelihood of South Africa’s population. Most of the country’s maize is produced in the area despite its sandy soils and semi-arid climate. Crop rotation has been identified as a management practice which has potential to maintain and improve crop production and profitability. This study’s objective was to determine the effect of different rotational systems on the production and profitability of maize and soybean in this area. A field trial was set up where maize, soybean and cover crops were used to compare rotational systems with monoculture maize. Trials were monitored for three consecutive years with yield and enterprise data collected and analysed accordingly. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed that although climate played a role, maize in rotational systems with soybean and cover crop performed 14% better than monoculture maize. In addition, soybean production and profitability increased up to 40% over time when incorporated with maize. These results emphasise the importance of crop rotation as a means of ensuring economic viability and agricultural sustainability. It is recommended that maize in the North-Western Free State be grown in rotation with soybean and cover crop to ensure sustainability.

Key words: Crop rotation, maize, North-Western Free State, production, profitability, soybean.