The performance of maize on tilled and untilled sandy loam soil, under different levels of compaction of 0, 2, 4 and 6 tractor-wheel passes in a humid tropical environment was investigated with a Massey Ferguson (MF) 90-disc plough, mounted on an MF 260 tractor. The experimentation had different aspects, respectively conducted in the field and laboratory, at the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt, Nigeria. The experimental field was a 72 m2 plot of land, which was left fallow for two years before the investigation. The plot was sub-divided into five experimental subplots of 9 m2 each, numbered 1 to 5, with a furrow spacing of 0.5 m. Soil samples were taken randomly at a depth of 0.3 m for the determination of the soil physical properties. After the compaction treatments, maize seeds were manually planted at a depth of 0.05 m and the growth and yield of the maize monitored over a period of fourteen weeks after planting. The investigation showed that the maize crop performed optimally on subplot (2), which was tilled and un-compacted, with a dry matter content of 2,859 kg ha-1, while the least performance was on subplot (1) that was untilled and un-compacted, with a dry matter content of 1,192 kg ha-1. Therefore, this research establishes that, with the agricultural practice of shifting cultivation, sandy loam soil in a humid tropical region requires a minimum level of tillage to achieve optimal yield of maize crop.
Key words: Maize, compaction, growth and yield, tilled soil, untilled soil, sandy loam.
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