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Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 105 (2005) 595614

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Plant productivity in cassava-based mixed cropping


systems in Colombian hillside farms
G.C. Daellenbacha,b,*, P.C. Kerridgea, M.S. Wolfec,
b
d
E. Frossard , M.R. Finckh
a

Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), Cali, Colombia


b
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, Switzerland
c
Wakelyns Agroforestry, Fressingfield, Suffolk, UK
d
Faculty of Agriculture, University of Kassel, Witzenhausen, Germany

Received 4 October 2001; received in revised form 12 August 2004; accepted 26 August 2004

Abstract
In the Colombian hillsides cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) is cultivated because of its ability to produce high yields on
acidic soils poor in nutrients. Farmers often plant mixtures of cassava cultivars, while bush-beans or maize are traditionally
grown as cassava-intercrops. The objectives of this study were: (a) to determine if cassava or overall production can be
improved by planting cassava cultivar mixtures or intercropping, (b) to assess the influence of soil properties on the dry
matter production of cassava production systems, (c) to verify if soil cover can be increased by growing cultivar or species
mixtures. On-farm trials were conducted at four locations in typical hillside environments with slopes up to 55% in the
Southwest of Colombia from 1996 to 1998. Two cassava varieties contrasting in plant architecture (early branching variety,
rich in apices versus erect, late branching variety, poor in apices) were grown as pure stands, as a variety mixture and each
intercropped independently with upland rice or Canavalia brasiliensis. Rainfall during the trial period was only 76% of the
long term average due to the El nin o
phenomenon. The cassava cultivars produced tuber yields of 9.0 and 7.5 t ha 1 DM when planted in cultivar pure stands.
Cassava growth and biomass production increased with increasing size of water stable aggregates and soil N content and
decreased with increasing soil bulk density. In the cassava cultivar mixture, competition changed the pattern of biomass
allocation, leading to a significantly lower harvest index compared to the mean of the pure stands ( 6%). Intercropped C.
brasiliensis significantly reduced cassava harvest index ( 13%; mean of cassava/C. brasiliensis mixtures compared to mean
of pure stands) as well as cassava ( 53%) and total biomass production ( 24%), while differences were not statistically
significant in the cassavarice systems probably because of the poor performance of rice. The strong reduction in cassava
tuber yield in the
Abbreviations: ANOVA, analysis of variance; CIAT, Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical; coeff, coefficient; DAP, days
after planting; DM (kg), dry matter; DMRT, Duncans multiple range test; p, error probability level; P < 0.1(*), error probability level of
10%;
*
**
***
P < 0.05, error probability level of 5%; P < 0.01, error probability level of 1%; P < 0.001, error probability level of 0.1%; ns, not
2
significant; r, coefficient of correlation (Pearson-r); R , coefficient of determination; SBRA, stepwise backward multiple regression analysis;
stdv, standard deviation; stdcoeff, standard coefficient; WSA, water stable aggregates
* Corresponding author. Present address: Bio Inspecta AG, Ackerstrasse, CH-5070 Frick, Switzerland. Tel.: +41 62 865 63 20;
fax: +41 62 865 63 01.
E-mail address: georg.daellenbach@ipw.agrl.ethz.ch (G.C. Daellenbach).
0167-8809/$ see front matter # 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights
reserved. doi:10.1016/j.agee.2004.08.009

596

G.C.
G.C.Daellenbach
Daellenbachetetal.al./ Agriculture,
/ Agriculture,Ecosystems
Ecosystemsand
andEnvironment
Environment105
105(2005)
(2005)595614
595614

cassava/C. brasiliensis systems was due to competition for water between cassava and the intercrop, aggravated by the lack of
rain. The percentage of soil cover was slightly higher in all mixed cropping systems compared to the pure stands. In contrast
to the mixture concept which seeks to increase productivity and soil cover compared to monocropping, the mixed cropping
systems used in the studies in Rio Cabuyal reduced cassava tuber yield and total biomass production of the cropping systems
compared to the cassava cultivar monocrops. When total soil cover was improved compared to the cassava cultivar pure
stands it was paralleled by reductions in terms of cassava tuber yield.
# 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights
reserved.
Keywords: Cassava; C. brasiliensis; Upland rice; Cultivar mixture; Intercropping; Soil structure stability; Bulk density; Diameter of
aggregates in air-dried soil; Soil cover

1. Introduction
Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) is grown in
the Colombian hillsides on acidic soils because tuber
yield remains relatively high even under conditions
of degraded land with low inputs (Braun et al., 1993;
Olasantan et al., 1994). Erosion and nutrient
depletion, especially of K (Howeler and Cadavid,
1990), are at the same time the reason for and the
consequence of continuous cassava cultivation on
steep slopes.
In Colombia, farmers often plant mixtures of
cassava cultivars due to shortage of planting material
or relative geographic isolation (Lozano et al., 1980).
Gold and co-workers found that cultivar mixtures
increased cassava yield by reducing herbivore load
(Gold et al., 1989a, 1989b, 1990). Cassava with bush
bean and maize intercrops may be grown where
fertilizer is available for the intercrops (Zaffaroni et
al., 1991; Mutsaers et al., 1993; Olasantan et al.,
1996). Based on the principles outlined by Altieri
(1994) and Risch et al. (1983) mixed cropping
systems reduce susceptibility of crop(s) to pest
(Ezulike and Igwatu, 1993; Gold, 1993) and disease
attacks and the risk of total crop failure (Ahohuendo
and Sarkar, 1995; Fondong et al., 2002). Such
cropping systems can also improve soil cover and
reduce erosion compared to monocrops directly
(Francis, 1990; Evangelio et al.,
1994; Leihner et al., 1996; Ruppenthal et al., 1997;
Howeler, 1998) or indirectly by increasing water
infiltration and earth worm activity (Hulugalle and
Ezumah, 1991; Hulugalle et al., 1994). Plants with
different aerial and subterranean architectures growing on the same fields might increase the resource use
efficiency for light, water, and nutrients (Mason et al.,
1986a, 1986b, 1986c; Ikeorgu and Odurukwe, 1990;
Sitompul et al., 1992). By suppressing weeds,

intercrops utilize resources otherwise economically


lost (Akobundu, 1981; Unamma and Ene, 1984;
Zuofa et al., 1992; Olasantan et al., 1994). Both is
relevant for cassava since it grows slowly in its initial
development phase making limited use of the
available resources (Mohankumar and Hrishi, 1978;
Mutsaers et al., 1993). Systems with intercropped
legumes additionally improve the fertility status of
the soil by N-fixation or by pumping nutrients from
deeper soil layers (Obiagwu, 1995; Leihner et al.,
1996; Lusembo et al., 1998). Mixed cropping
systems can also improve labor efficiency (Odurukwe
and Ikeorgu,
1994), enhance the diversity of the farmers diet and
provide them with an additional income (Gold, 1993),
though these advantages are disputed (Benites et al.,
1993). Cassava cultivars and intercrop partners have
to be carefully selected concerning early
development, plant architecture, competitive ability
and time to maturity. Only fast maturing species may
be planted simultaneously with cassava (Kawano
and Thung,
1982; Tsay et al., 1988; Cenpukdee and Fukai, 1991;
Ezumah and Lawson, 1990; Muhr et al., 1995;
Okeke,
1996; Okoli et al., 1996; Polthanee and Anan, 1999;
Hernandez et al., 1999).
Little is known about the beneficial or detrimental
effects of cultivar or species mixtures for cassava
under on-farm conditions. The purpose of this study
was to evaluate different cassava cultivation systems
with respect to their effect on plant productivity. Onfarm trials were conducted using two contrasting
types of cassava cultivars intercropped with each
other or rice or Canavalia brasiliensis as intercrop
partners. The objectives were: (a) to determine if
production can be improved through cropping system
diversifica- tion (i.e. by planting a mixture of cassava
varieties, or intercropping cassava with another crop),
(b) to assess the influence of soil properties on
cassava production,

(c) to determine if soil cover can be increased by


growing more diverse systems.
Before the start of the trial, two meetings were
organized with farmers to define cassava cultivars,
intercrops for cassava and experimental fields.
Besides cassava, farmers were interested in upland
rice and in C. brasiliensis. Rice is an important
component of the farmers diet with some potential as
a subsistence crop in Rio Cabuyal. The idea of
planting upland rice as single row intercrop with
cassava was to combine the production of a
subsistence crop with the establish- ment of life
barriers analogous to those formed with Vetiver grass
(Vetiver zizanioides) which the farmers are already
familiar with (Ruppenthal et al., 1997). The farmers
were interested in C. brasiliensis due to its supposed
ability to repel leaf cutter ants (Atta sp.) (CIAT,
1996b). C. brasiliensis establishes very fast and
provides early soil cover and suppression of weeds
(CIAT Tropical Forages Program, Robinson Mosquera, pers. commun., 1995). Its strong roots may
substantially reduce erosion during high-intensity
rainfalls and especially tillage erosion at harvest.
Since the plant may be cut back easily several times
during the cassava cycle without loosing its ability for
re-growth, competition of cassava may be controlled
(Akanvou et al., 2002). Even in low P soils Canavalia
1
spp. are able to fix between 22 and 133 kg ha N
from the atmosphere (Cadisch et al., 1993; Wortmann
et al., 2000; Becker and Johnson, 1998).
2. Materials and methods
2.1. Experimental sites
Experiments were carried out for one cassava
cropping cycle from November 1996 to January 1998
at four locations at altitudes between 1425 and 1625
m above sea level. Sites 1 (Julio) and 2 (Lizardo)
were in the middle-upper, sites 3 (Jeremias) and 4
(Merardo) in the lower portion of the watershed of
Rio Cabuyal, situated in Cauca Department in
Southwest Colombia (28470 N, 768320 W). Selected
characteristics of these sites are given in Table 1.
The soils in Julio and Lizardo were classified as
Typic Dystrandepts while the soils in Jeremias and
Merardo were oxic Dystropepts (USDA, 1998).
Selected physico-chemical character- istics of these
soils are presented in Table 2. Available

phosphorus content at all sites was extremely low and


probably the most limiting nutrient for cassava
production.
Based on the classification of life zones (Holdridge,
1967), Rio Cabuyal lies in the tropical premontane
moist forest zone. The annual mean temperature and
the annual mean precipitation are 20 8C and 2066
mm, respectively. There are two dry periods, from
June to August and from December to February
(Gijsman and Sanz, 1998). Based on its
environmental and socio- economic characteristics
this watershed had been chosen as a representative
pilot area for the hillside areas in Latin America
(CIAT, 1996a).
2.2. Plant material and experimental set up
Two cassava cultivars with contrasting growth
patterns were selected for the trials. They were the
early branching CG 402-11 forming a large number
of apices and the erect, late branching SM 526-3
which develops only a few apices. Both had
1
produced high tuber yields, i.e. 810 t ha DM in
variety trials under hillside conditions (Jaramillo,
1994). Upland rice var. Fofifa 62 (origin
Madagascar)
Shin-Ei 3 (origin Japan) with cycle
length of 123 days was sown in a single row at a rate
1
of 5 g m
(equals one quarter of normal seed
1
rate, i.e. 25 kg ha
instead of
1
100 kg ha ). Based on previous results (Robinson,
1997; Jalloh et al., 1994; Dahniya et al., 1994) and
taking into account soil and climatic conditions in
Rio Cabuyal favoring cassava over rice, rice and
cassava were planted at the same time.
C. brasiliensis, CIAT-Accession No. 17009,
known to deal well with low-P conditions was sown
in a single row at a distance of 80 cm in the row
(three grains of C. brasiliensis per planting hole).
Cassava was fertilized at planting with 0.5 kg of
chicken manure containing 1.8% N, 1.4% P, and
1.8% K (on a DM basis, CIAT analytical services)
per plant as is traditionally done in this region. The
respective amounts of nutrients on an area
basis were
1
1
113 kg ha N and K, and 88 kg ha P. Intercrops
did not receive additional fertilizer.
There were seven treatments (Table 3) replicated
twice at each of the four locations in a randomized
complete block design. Soil preparation and length of
prior fallow periods were different between the
experimental sites (Table 1). Sixteen rows of five

59
8

Table 1
Characteristics and plot history of trial sites
a

Site name, slope range


(average)

Soil classification

Usual agronomic practices


and pest or disease incidence

Crops produced prior to


trial (rest of time under
spontaneous fallow); length of fallow
period before experiment

Soil preparation for the experiment

Julio (1), 2943% (37%)

Typic Dystrandept

Ploughing with oxen; fertilizer,


chicken manure, 0.5 kg cassava
per plant; ant and whitefly attack
Manual hoeing; fertilizer, chicken
manure, 0.5 kg cassava per plant;
yield losses through ant damage

June 1995July 1996: cassavabean


intercrop. Fallow length: 3 months

Manual hoeing to 10 cm (only area


of cassava planting)

September 1993October 1994:


cassava; November 1994December
1995: cassava. Fallow
length: 10 months
19891991: cassava. Fallow
length: 5 years
March 1994April 1995: cassava.
Five plots were last cultivated in 1990.
Fallow length: 18 months/5 years

Ploughing with oxen to 15 cm

Lizardo (2), 3757% (44%)

Typic Dystrandept

Jeremias (3), 1631% (24%) Oxic Dystropept

Ploughing with oxen; no fertilization

Merardo (4), 1437% (27%)

Ploughing with oxen; no fertilization

Oxic Dystropept

Ploughing with oxen to 15 cm


Ploughing with oxen to 15 cm

USDA soil taxonomy (1998).

Table 2
Soil characteristics of experimental sitesa, depth 020 cm
Parameters

Julio (1)
Typic Dystrandept

Sand (g kg 1 soil)
1
Clay (g kg soil)
3
Bulk density (g cm )
Air-dried aggregates (<6.3 > 2 mm), % (w)
Water stable aggregates, % (w)
Total N content (g kg 1 soil)
OM content (g kg 1 soil)
P content (Bray II) (mg kg 1 soil)
1
content (Bray II) (cmol kg )

380
310
0.76
42
91
4
82
1.94
0.27

Mean values

standard deviation.

30
28
0.05
5.8
3
1.03
12
0.8
0.08

Lizardo (2)
Typic Dystrandept

Jeremias (3)
Oxic Dystropept

Merardo (4)
Oxic Dystropept

410 26
240 13
0.69 0.03
32 5.8
87 3
4.7 0.94
116 21
0.96 0.3
0.28
0.05

110 46
660 41
1.07 0.04
71 4.6
93 3
1.9 0.27
46 7
3.1 0.8
0.19
0.05

220 80
600 92
0.95 0.08
62 2.7
95 2
3.1 0.86
72 11
2.3 0.5
0.26
0.12

G.
C.
Da
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et
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/
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,
Ec
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10
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(2
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59
5
61
4

59
G.C.
G.C.Daellenbach
Daellenbachetetal.al./ Agriculture,
/ Agriculture,Ecosystems
Ecosystemsand
andEnvironment
Environment105
105(2005)
(2005)595614
595614
59
9 3
9
Table
4 and 28 plants per plot (12 plants on an average) of a
Cassava cultivars and intercropping species selected for the ontotal of 45 plants relevant for biomass measurement
farm
had been lost due to a massive pest attack (white
trials
Treatment
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
a
b

Cropping system

CG 402-11 pure stand (CG)


SM 526-3 pure stand (SM)
Variety mixture of CG and SM (CG/SM)
Species mixture CG + ricea (CGrice)
Species mixture SM + rice (SMrice)
b
Species mixture CG + C. brasiliensis
(CGC. brasiliensis)
Species mixture SM + C. brasiliensis
(SMC. brasiliensis)
Shin-Ei 3 was used.
Upland rice Oryza sativa var. Fofifa 62
Canavalia brasiliensis CIAT 17009
was used.

1520 cm long cassava cuttings (approximately 10


nodes) were planted on contour at a distance of
0.8 m 1.0 m in plots of 4.5 m 17 m. At the same
time intercropping species were manually sown in
contour rows halfway between the cassava rows.
2.3. Methods
2.3.1. Climate data
Rainfall and temperature data were collected on a
daily basis at a CIAT experimental site in Pescador in
the central part of Rio Cabuyal watershed at a
distance of 2 and 4 km from the experimental
locations in the middle-upper and in the lower part of
the watershed, respectively (Jorge Rubiano, CIAT,
pers. commun.).
2.3.2. Cassava growth analysis
Commencing at 90 days after planting (DAP),
cassava plant height, number of apices per plant and
rate of leaf production per apex were measured biweekly on 10 plants per variety and plot over the
whole cassava growing cycle, omitting the border
rows.
2.3.3. Biomass production of the different
system components
Cassava was harvested 15 months after planting to
determine fresh tuber yield and biomass per plot and
per-cultivar. Dry matter production of cassava tuber
and stem was measured on 3 kg subsamples after
drying at 60 8C in an oven. At site Julio cassava
yields were extrapolated based on yields of
completely harvestable rows. At this site, between

grub, Scarabaeidae sp.).


C. brasiliensis was cut back twice before cassava
harvest to reduce competition to cassava growth.
Plant residues were left in the plots. Biomass fresh
weight of C. brasiliensis was determined from
samples from
2.5 m 3 m, 3 and 6 months after planting, and from
the whole plots at cassava harvest. Dry weight was
determined after drying at 60 8C in an oven, on the
basis of the sample from 2.5 m 3 m for the
intermediate cuts and on a subsample of 5 kg at
harvest. Rice panicles were harvested 140 DAP.
2.3.4. Chemical soil properties
Three bulk soil samples, 020 cm depth, were
collected 2 weeks after planting along the diagonal of
each plot (4.5 m 17 m) in the interrows to avoid the
fertilized zone. Soil samples were air-dried, sieved at
2 mm, and analysed to determine organic matter
content (Nelson and Sommers, 1982), total N (Krom,
1980), 0.1 M HCl + 0.03 M NH4F (Bray II method)
extractable P and K (Salinas and Garcia, 1985), 1 M
KCl extractable Ca, Mg, Al (Thomas, 1982), 0.05 M
HCl + 0.0125 M H2SO4 extractable zinc (Martens
and Lindsay, 1990), soil texture (Bouyoucos, 1962)
and pHH2O (Salinas and Garcia, 1985). Analyses
were performed on each sample and averaged for
each plot.
2.3.5. Physical soil properties
Undisturbed soil cores, 5 cm in diameter and 2.5 or
5 cm in length, were taken 14 months after planting
cassava at the four sites for the determination of soil
physical characteristics. The following parameters
were determined using the methodologies indicated in
brackets: (1) compressibility (Klute, 1986; Culley,
1993), (2) hydraulic conductivity (Reynolds, 1993),
(3) air permeability (Weeks, 1978), (4) total porosity
and pore size distribution (Topp et al., 1993; Klute,
1986), (5) permeability ka was indirectly determined
with a DIK-5001 permeameter (Daiki Rika Kogyo
Co., Tokyo, Japan).
Additional bulk soil samples, of 1 kg fresh soil,
were taken 14 months after planting cassava from 0
5 and 520 cm depths with two replications
per experimental plot. Samples were air-dried for 3
days

for the aggregate analysis. Seven aggregate size


classes were separated using an electric Sieve Shaker
(CSC Scientific Company, Fairfax, VA, USA).
Aggregates with a diameter between 2 and 4 mm
were subsequently used to determine the net weight
of water stable aggregates (WSA) and the
geometric mean diameter (GMD) of the WSA with
the humid sieving technique (E. Amezquita, CIAT,
pers. com- mun.) applying an apparatus similar to
that described by Bourget and Kemp (1957).
2.3.6. Soil cover and soil erosion
Soil cover was assessed using a sighting frame as
described by Elwell and Stocking (1974). Cover was
expressed as a percentage of covered sights of the
total number of 351 observations (i.e. nine frame
lengths) per plot. Cover measurements were carried
out bi-weekly until 200 DAP when the height of
cassava plants made the use of the frame impossible.
Total soil cover over the observation period, i.e. from
planting until 200 DAP was estimated based on the
area under the curve.
Eroded soil and runoff water were collected in a
plastic-lined channel at the bottom of the plots. While
the sites Julio and Lizardo (middle-upper watershed)
were furnished completely with collection channels
(i.e. one channel/plot, 14 channels per site), channels
were dug only for one repetition per site (seven
channels per site) at sites Merardo and Jeremias in the
lower part. Excess water was pumped off when
necessary and dry weight of eroded soil was
determined (a) for the first 90 days and (b) for the
total length of the cropping season. At the Julio site,
soil cover and erosion measurements were discarded
90 DAP due to a massive pest attack (white grub,
Scarabaeidae sp.) which caused the total loss of a
substantial number of cassava plants in five plots at
this site.
2.4. Data processing and statistical analysis
Relative values of plant growth parameters for all
treatments were calculated on a per site basis by
dividing the observed value by the value for the
respective cultivar grown in pure stand. The use of
relative values allowed direct comparison of effects
of competition on both cultivars in the different
treatments.

Cassava top growth was assessed by repeatedly


measuring the parameters plant height, number of
apices per plant and leaf formation rate over the
whole cultivation cycle. These data were depicted as
graphs of the following function
y
(1)

timeDAP

where y is the plant height, number of apices per


plant or leaf formation rate of cassava.
In order to convert repeated measurement values
into a single number, the area under the curve, i.e. the
area between the x-axis and the graph of the
respective function, was calculated for each of the
three growth parameters. Relative cassava top
growth represents the mean value of the relative
areas under the curve (i.e. value for the respective
pure stand was set = 1) for the parameters plant
height, number of apices per plant, and leaf
formation rate.
Data were analysed using the Statistical Analysis
Systems (SAS, 1988) and SYSTAT (SPSS, 1998)
software. The former was applied to assess the effect
of treatments and sites on cassava growth, biomass
production of the cropping system components (i.e.
cassava, rice, and C. brasiliensis), and soil cover.
SYSTAT was used to determine the effect of soil
physico-chemical properties on cassava growth and
on biomass production of the cropping system
compo- nents.
Firstly, ANOVAs, Duncans multiple range tests
and linear contrasts were performed separately for
each of the four experimental sites (Gomez and
Gomez, 1984) to assess the total treatment effect and
to compare growth, production, and soil cover of the
different treatments. Subsequently, the same
statistical tools were applied carrying out a combined
analysis over all sites for the growth and production
data and over three sites for soil cover data
(discarded at site Julio) to investigate differences
between the experi- mental locations and site
treatment interactions.
Site was considered as a fixed variable.
In the final step of data analysis, stepwise
backward multiple regression analysis (SBRA) was
used to simultaneously estimate the effect of
selected soil parameters on growth and production of
the tested cropping systems. The SBRA was
carried out to replace the categoric variable
replication in the ANOVA by continuous variables
of agronomic relevance.

In the SBRA model, the observed values for the


dependent parameters are explained by k independent
parameters and described by Eq. (2):
yobs csite1

ctreatment1

soil parameter1

c1

soil parameter2

c2

soil parameterk
(2)

ck errorresidual

where csite, ctreatment, and ck are the category-specific


and parameter-specific constants, respectively.
In order to pre-select the variables entered into the
SBRA, data were subjected to a discriminant
analysis. Thirty-four of 35 original soil parameters
could be
represented by 11 proxies based on significant pooled
within-class correlations (jrj > 0.27, P < 0.05) (data
not
shown). Variables were only replaced if the per-site
correlations were consistently positive or negative at
all four experimental sites. Eleven proxies and the
parameter share of waterstable aggregates, 520
cm depth, which had no significant correlation (P <
0.05) to any of the other parameters, i.e. 12
independent parameters in total were fed into the
SBRA. Only two chemical properties were used as
proxies, soil N and
Ca content. The remaining main (P and K) and
secondary plant nutrients (Mg and Zn) are highly
correlated either to soil bulk density (520 cm) or to
Ca content (data not shown). Original values of soil
chemical parameters and the residual values of soil
physical parameters were used as independent
variables in the SBRA. Physical parameters had been
measured at the end of the cropping cycle and were
therefore corrected by subtracting the treatment effect
from the original values, i.e. calculating the residuals
from the ANOVA. Original values of growth and
production parameters of the cropping systems were
used as dependent variables. Since cassava and
cropping system growth and production were not
only affected by the parameters used in the SBRA,
but also by the parameters replaced by proxies (data
not shown), the correlations which were relevant for
the identification of the latter were taken into
account for the discussion.
To simplify the discussion about the effect of the
soil parameters replaced by proxies on production,
para- meter pairs not varying significantly between
depth levels were merged into one variable per pair.
The same was done where correlations between

compressibility, % share of aggregates <1 mm in


air- dried soil, mean diameter of WSA, % shares of
macro, meso, and micropores and bulk density.
SBRA defined the significance and the relevance of the effect of simultaneous changes of
various soil parameters on cassava and cropping
system growth and production (Hair et al., 1992;
Jambu, 1991). Significance measures the change
of y caused by a one unit change of x and is indicated
in the form of a coefficient (i.e. regression slope) per
parameter. Relevance is indicated in the form of a
standard coefficient and measures the change of y
relative to its standard deviation (stdvy) caused by a
change of x by one standard deviation (stdvx) (Eq.
(3))
Dy
stdvy

standard coefficient

Dx

stdvx

error term

(3)

3. Results and discussion


3.1. Weather conditions and soil erosion

parameters were significant on both depth levels 05


and 520 cm, i.e.

Climate in Rio Cabuyal during the trial period was


influenced by the El nin o phenomenon with
rainfall being less than normal. While the average air
temperature (19.7 8C) was close to the long term
average of 20 8C, total rainfall during the cassava
cropping cycle (November 1996 to January 1998)
was
2800 mm, 76% of the long term average of 3700 mm
for the same 15-month period (Fraiture et al., 1997).
Only 5 mm of rain, 3% of the long term average, fell
between July and August 1997 (between 240 and 300
DAP cassava; Jorge Rubiano, CIAT, pers. commun.).
Leaf formation was reduced greatly at all sites after
240

DAP but increased again after 300 DAP as rainfall


resumed (Fig. 1). Beside the reduction of total
rainfall, the climate during the cropping cycle
reported here was characterized by the absence of
1
high-intensity rains (>100 mm h ). The estimated
rates of total soil loss during the cropping cycle, i.e.
1
1.9 t ha
dry soil in the upper watershed (based on
1
site Lizardo) and 0.6 t ha
dry soil in the lower
watershed, respectively were about
10 times lower compared to those measured by other
workers in the same area under similar soil conditions
(Reining, 1992). Erosion data were not further
analysed due to the lack of relevant rainfall events
during the

Fig. 1. Daily rainfall and rate of cassava leaf formation (average over all treatments) at the four sites. Reduction of leaf formation at site
Lizardo prior to 160 DAP as caused by ants (Linepithema sp.).

observation period and due to the pest attack leading


to total cassava plant loss at site Julio.
3.2. Crop performance
Over all sites (including site Julio, where yields of
plots with missing plants were extrapolated based on

yields of complete rows (see Section 2.3.3), mean


cassava tuber yields in the cultivar pure stands were
1
9.0 and 7.5 t ha DM for the cultivars CG and SM,
respectively (Fig. 2). These yields were larger than
the average tuber yield of a wide range of improved
1
cultivars (5.1 t ha
DM) grown under similar soil
and fertilization conditions (Jaramillo, 1994). This
sug-

Fig. 2. Performance of cassava cropping systems over all trial sites: component and total biomass production; harvest indices of cropping
systems. Columns and column segments of the same colour and pattern marked with different letters are of different size at P < 0.05
(Duncans MRT).

gests that the lower rainfall in this cropping cycle had


no negative influence on the tuber yield of the
cultivars CG and SM.
On the average over all sites, the total biomass
1
production of rice was only 0.1 t ha DM. In
contrast, rice grain yields for the same variety in
intensively managed monocrop plots, grown in Rio
Cabuyal at the same period in an earlier season and
on soils comparable with the sites Julio and Lizardo,
1
were between 1.6 and 2.3 t ha
DM (Quiros,
1996). We observed that rice grew well at site Julio
with the lowest clay and the highest OM content
among the experimental fields. The rice biomass
1
production at site Julio was 200 kg ha on average
over the four cassava/rice plots, reaching 400 kg ha
1
in the best plot which is still 812 times lower
compared to the rice variety trials described by
Quiros (1996). The fact that the rice had been sown
at a lower seed rate, i.e.
1
1
25 kg ha instead of 100 kg ha , cannot explain the
very low production. Since our results showed a
reduced cassava production in the cassava/rice
intercrop plots (see Section 3.4), we supposed a
strong negative competition effect of cassava on rice.
Conditions for rice growth were suboptimal in most
experimental plots since the nutrient status was low,
there was no additional fertilizer for the intercrops
and clay content in the lower watershed was too
high. Germination of rice was supposedly hindered
by insufficient contact of the seeds with the soil at
the sites where plots were ploughed with oxen (see
Table
1). In addition, rice growth was severely hampered by
repeated bird attacks at each of the four sites. The

results showed that with low input practices typical


for cassava plots most soil characteristics-soil
preparation combinations allow for a negligible rice
intercrop production only leading to grain yields 10
50 times lower compared to intensely managed
monocrop plots.
C. brasiliensis developed rapidly and covered the
soil between the cassava rows. The legume
performed best at site Julio with a Pconcentration of only
1
1.9 mg kg soil. Mean biomass production over all
1
sites in Rio Cabuyal was 3.6 t ha DM. There is no
literature on C. brasiliensis production on soils
comparable to Rio Cabuyal, but C. brasiliensis pure
stands on the Cerrado soils in Brazil, when not cut
1
back, produced 5 t ha DM (Lathwell, 1990).
3.3. Site effect on cassava performance and soil
cover over all cropping systems
Dry matter production of cassava shoots and
tubers, relative cassava top growth and total biomass
were very variable at each of the four sites. Cassava
harvest index (average over all cropping systems) at
site Lizardo was significantly lower compared to the
sites Jeremias and Julio (Table 4). Per-cultivar
analyses for CG and SM showed that at site Lizardo,
SM tuber yield and harvest index were significantly
lower compared to the other sites (Table 4), while the
performance of CG did not differ significantly
between the sites. This was due to heavy attacks of
small ants (Linepithema sp.) on cultivar SM which
reduced the rate of formation of leaves until 200 DAP
at site Lizardo (Fig. 1). The ants acted as a competing

Table 4
a
Mean cassava performance at different experimental sites (mean effect over both cassava cultivars CG and SM (per plot) and on each of two
varieties (CG and SM) separately)
Site

Cassava shoots
1
(t ha DM)
Variety

Plot
Julio
Lizardo
Jeremias
Merardo
a

Cassava tubers
1
(t ha DM)

2.7a
3.6ad
d
3.2a
4.5ad

Plot

CG

SM

2.9a
3.6a
3.4a
5.6a

2.6a
3.8a
3.3a
4.0a

7.2a
4.1a
7.9a
7.2a

Variety
CG

SM

8.2a
5.2a
7.5a
7.5a

6.4a
3.1b
8.5a
7.4a

Harvest indexb (excl.


fallen leaves)

Total biomass of cropping


system (t ha 1 DM)

Relative cassava
top growthc

Plot

Plot

Plot

0.70a
0.50b
0.71a
0.61ba

Variety
CG

SM

0.71a
0.58a
0.70a
0.57a

0.69a
0.42b
0.72a
0.65a

11.6a
7.7a
12.0a
12.4a

0.92a
1.03a
1.04a
0.91a

Variety
CG

SM

0.87a
1.09a
1.08a
0.84a

0.98a
0.99a
1.03a
1.02a

Averaged across all treatments.


Tuber yield/cassava biomass.
c
Relative area under curve, see Section 2.4 for explications; no difference between pure stands by definition.
d
Numbers within a column followed by different letters are significantly different (differences between experimental sites, P < 0.05,
DMRT).
b

+**+(*)
no difference between pure stands by definition of relative value.c Area under curve.b Excluding fallen cassava leaves.a Based on linear contrast analysis.

e
SM CGrice
SMrice
A
mix B
Mean
p.s. Cultivar

+***++(*)

+ ++(*)

+***

Not analysed

1
1
b
c
c
c
Harvest
crop. system
Total biomass
Cassava
of
leaf dcassava
Relative
(t ha Cassava
DM) shoots (t ha Cassava
DM) tubers
index
plant height
apices per plant number Cassava
formation Cassava
rate
top growth

As expected from the choice of cassava cultivars,


cultivar CG in pure stand produced significantly more
apices (P < 0.001) compared to cultivar SM (Table
5). Conversely, production
of
leaves
was
significantly higher (P < 0.05) in SM compared to
CG. However, production parameters at harvest
(tuber and shoot dry matter) did not differ
significantly between CG and SM (Table 5, Fig. 2).
In the cultivar mixture, tuber and shoot dry matter
production was lower and higher, respectively as
compared to the mean of the pure stands (Table 5,
Fig.
2). Linear contrast analysis showed a significant shift
in biomass allocation from tubers to shoots, which
was reflected in a lower harvest index for the
cultivar mixture (P < 0.10) compared to the mean of
the pure stands (Table 5).
Separate analyses based on DMRT for the
cultivars CG and SM presented in Table 6 showed
different reaction patterns of the cultivars when
planted together in cultivar mixture. For cultivar CG,
all parameters except for shoot biomass were slightly
reduced, while cultivar SM increased shoot and total
biomass production, formed more apices and grew
taller compared to the respective pure stands (Table
6). The differences found when contrasting the
cultivar mixture versus the mean of the pure stands
(Table 5) were thus due to changes in SM shoot
growth. The growth and production of aerial parts in
cultivar CG planted in mixture with cultivar SM were
more resilient compared to SM to the changed
patterns of

a
Table 5
Differences of performance (A minus B) between cropping systems across four experimental sites

3.4. Treatment effect on cassava and cropping


system performance and soil cover across the four
sites

Cropping systems

nutrient sink without affecting cassava shoot production, as previously observed by (Gold, 1993).
At site Lizardo, total soil cover over the
observation period was significantly reduced
compared to the sites Jeremias and Merardo. Four out
of seven cover measurements between 100 and 200
DAP showed the same ranking of the locations
(DMRT, P < 0.05, data not shown). Slower
establishment and growth of C. brasiliensis at site
Lizardo compared to Jeremias and Merardo
explained these findings. At site Julio, cover
measurements had been discarded 90 days DAP
because of massive loss of cassava plants in several
experimental plots.

Table 6
Per-cultivar analysis: comparisons among the four cropping systems containing the same cultivar (for cultivars CG and SM; mean across four sites)

CG-based systems
CG pure stand
CG in cultivar mix
CG/rice
CG/C. brasiliensis
SM based systems
SM pure stand
SM in cultivar mix
SM/rice
SM/C. brasiliensis
Cultivar mixturee
a
b
c
d
e

Cassava shoots
1
(t ha DM)

Cassava tubers
1
(t ha DM)

Harvest
indexa

Total biomass
for cropping
1
system (t ha
DM)

Cassava plant
heightb

Cassava number
of apices per
b
plant

Cassava leaf
formation rateb

Relative
cassava top
c
growth

4.3ad
4.7a
3.6a
2.8a

9.0a
7.9a
7.2a
4.3b

0.67a
0.63a
0.67a
0.60a

13.3a
12.6a
11.0a
9.7a

2191a
2171a
2111a
1842a

220a
210ab
202ab
162b

642a
636ab
633ab
597b

1.00a
1.01a
0.99a
0.87a

3.6ab
4.4a
3.3ab
2.5b

7.5a
7.5a
6.9a
3.5b

0.65a
0.61ab
0.67a
0.55b

11.1ab
11.9a
10.3ab
8.9b

2000ab
2247a
1856b
1672b

50ab
68a
52ab
41b

711a
696a
670a
623b

1.00ab
1.17a
0.99b
0.87b

4.5ns

7.7ns

0.62(*)

12.2ns

2209ns

139ns

666ns

1.09ns

Excluding fallen cassava leaves.


Area under curve.
Relative area under curve, see Section 2.4 for explications for explications.
Treatments belonging to the same cultivar group followed by the same character are not significantly different.
The cultivar mixture was compared to the mean of the pure stands: (*): linear contrast significant at P < 0.1.

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shading and competition for aerial space relative to
harvest index (ns) of cultivar CG intercropped with
the pure stands.
rice were lower compared to the pure stand (Table 5).
While competition for light in the cultivar mixture
There were no such effects in the SM/rice system,
led to increased shoot production in both cultivars,
possibly due to the more erect growth habit of SM
the net effect was negative concerning total tuber
compared to CG which reduced competition from the
yield. The harvest indices in both cultivars were
low growing rice. Generally spoken, reductions of
decreased as compared to the pure stands. While
cassava growth and production in the interspecific
tuber yield of cultivar SM grown together with CG
mixtures with rice or C. brasiliensis were more severe
was the same compared to the SM pure stand, the
in cultivar CG compared to SM.
mentioned shift in assimilate distribution led to a
The decrease of total biomass production due to
reduction of tuber yield in cultivar CG as compared
intercropping C. brasiliensis was likely due to strong
to the CG pure stand and to a reduction of total tuber
interspecific competition for water induced by the
yield in the cultivar mixture compared to the mean of
higher evapo-transpiration rates of these systems
the pure stands. The different reaction patterns of CG
compared to the cassava monocrop and aggravated by
and SM confirmed the results of Kawano and Thung
the dry summer of 1997. Our findings concerning the
(1982). They found that the essential part of
shift in assimilate distribution in the cassava plant
competition in cassava was for light. While
support the results reported by Gold et al. (1989a,
competitive ability and spacing response (e.g.
1989b) and by Cock et al. (1979a), who found that
occupation of free space through formation of new
under stress cassava favored top growth, first
apices and branches like in cultivar SM) were found
fulfilling the requirements of the energy producing
to be strongly positively correlated, the correlation
structures before filling the storage tubers.
between competitive ability and harvest index was
While this mechanism may reduce the production
negative (Kawano and Thung, 1982). Our results
in terms of tuber yield, the plasticity of its above
concerning the mixture of two cassava cultivars with
ground organs enables cassava to quickly respond to
different competitive abilities may be explained in
biotic and abiotic stresses such as pests and diseases,
two ways. Firstly the majority of the total amount of
drought, and competition by weeds or intercrop
assimilates produced by both cultivars was drained
partners.
to the cultivar with the higher competitive ability and
Since the biomass production per unit nutrient and
the lower harvest index, the productivity in terms of
water uptake in cassava is higher compared to other
tuber yield decreased. Secondly there was a shift in
crops (Howeler and Cadavid, 1990), the intercrop
assimilate distribution in both cultivars from the
biomass was not sufficient to make up for the loss in
tubers to the shoots which was triggered in the
total cassava biomass, not even in the case of the
stronger cultivar by the spacing response and in
competitive C. brasiliensis.
the weaker by the stress induced by the
Concerning soil cover at 100 DAP values were in
competing cultivar.
between 45 and 63% depending on the cropping
In all interspecies mixtures (i.e. cassava with C.
system (Fig. 3). Soil cover in both cassava/rice
brasiliensis or upland rice), cassava growth and
systems was significantly higher compared to the
production parameters were reduced compared to
respective pure stands (linear contrasts, P < 0.05).
the pure stands (Tables 5 and 6). In combination with
Before the second cover measurement fields were
C. brasiliensis, all parameters in both cultivars were
weeded and C. brasiliensis was cut back, causing
reduced compared to the respective pure stands, with
decreases in soil cover of between 13 and 35%,
significant differences for cassava shoot and tuber
depending on the cropping system. Soil cover
production, harvest index, total biomass production of
decrease after cutting the intercrop and increase
the cultivation system, cassava plant height (P <
through re-growth were most drastic in the CG/C.
0.05), leaf formation rate and relative top growth (P
brasiliensis system, as the CG pure stand provided
<
the least soil cover of all cropping systems.
0.10; Table 5). In addition, the number of cassava
Despite its erect growth, the SM pure stand
apices per plant in CG was significantly reduced in
provided better soil protection compared to the CG
the presence of C. brasiliensis (Tables 5 and 6).
Linear contrasts showed that despite the low rice
production, cassava tuber production (P < 0.10) and

Fig. 3. Percent of soil cover in different cassava cropping systems, 100200 days after cassava planting (average over three experimental
sites). (1) Significant differences between treatments based on linear contrasts (*P < 0.05, **P < 0.01). (2) Significant differences between
*
treatments based on DMRT ( P < 0.05).

pure stand at 150 and 194 DAP. This could be


explained by its higher leaf production rate and larger
individual leaf size. Due to the increased soil cover in
the SM pure stand compared to the CG pure stand,
differences in soil cover between the intercropping
systems and the respective pure stands were larger
and more frequent in the CG-based systems.
Based on the area under the curve, soil cover over
the whole observation period was slightly higher in
all mixed cropping systems compared to the
respective pure stands and higher in the SM pure
stand compared to the CG pure stand. However, the
only significant difference measured was between
CG/rice (57% total soil cover) and the CG pure stand
(44% total soil cover) (linear contrast, P < 0.05,
data not shown).
The gain in total soil cover in the CG/rice system
compared to the CG pure stand was linked to a
significant cassava tuber yield loss of 20% (linear
contrast, P < 0.10) (Table 6). In all other mixed
cropping systems insignificant soil cover increases of
between 10 and 13% were paralleled by cassava tuber
yield losses of between 7 and 54% compared to the
respective pure stands. Yield losses were highly
significant for both cassava/C. brasiliensis systems
(Tables 5 and 6). The trade-off of reduced cassava
tuber yield for increased soil cover, as observed in the
mixed cropping systems is highly disadvantageous
for farmers, especially for the cassava/rice and
cassava/C. brasiliensis systems. Besides the yield loss
in cassava, the additional costs and time for seed and
more careful

soil preparation and weeding have to be taken into


account. In contrast to the results presented here,
Howeler (1998), working with farmers in Asia, has
demonstrated that a combination of promoting more
rapid growth of cassava through efficient fertilization,
short-term cash intercrops, that mature before canopy
closure and competition for moisture, e.g. peanuts,
and erosion barriers lead to high yielding sustainable
cassava-based systems.
3.5. Effects of soil physical and chemical
characteristics on growth and production of cassava
cropping systems
In a first approach, the stepwise backward multiple
regression analysis (SBRA) had shown highly significant negative correlations between the dependent
parameters and the clay content. The relevance of
clay content had been up to three times higher
compared to the second most important variable.
Plotting of the residuals which were the basis for the
regression calculations (original data reduced by site
and treatment effects), i.e. dependent parameters
versus clay content, revealed that these regressions
were dominantly influenced by data from the
experimental plots of site
4 (Merardo) (Fig. 4). Five plots at site Merardo had
been under fallow for a longer period of time
compared to the other plots of the same site before
the start of the experiment (Table 1). These five plots
had considerably lower clay contents than all others
and cassava yields

Fig. 4. Regression lines over four and three (without site Merardo) experimental sites, respectively of clay content of soil (020 cm depth) on
cassava stick production. x = 0 and y = 0, respectively are the means across all observations (56 and 42, respectively).

were much higher than in other plots (Fig. 5). For this
reason, the Merardo site was subsequently excluded
from this analysis and the results of the SBRA are
based on three sites and 42 observations (Fig. 3,
Table 7). The SBRA showed that the N content of
the 020 cm horizon, the mean diameter of WSA
of the 05 cm horizon, and the bulk density of the
05 and 520 cm horizons, respectively, had a
significant effect on one or

more of the dependent variables and that eight


regressions of soil parameters on dependent variables
were statistically significant (P < 0.05) (Table 7).
All these correlations showed similar trends at the
three sites and were therefore further considered for
the inter- pretation.
Soil parameters explained between 7 and 21%
(measured as % share of the total sum of squares) of
the

Fig. 5. Cassava tuber yield (residual, effect of cropping system subtracted) and clay content in plots with long (5 years, A) and short (18
months, B) fallow at experimental site Merardo (lower watershed).

Table 7
Relevance and significance of effect of soil parameters that significantly affected cassava and cropping system performance based on data of three experimental sites (without site
Merardo)
Independent (soil) parameters

N content, 020 cm
(g kg 1 soil)

Diameter of WSA,
Bulk density,
depth d = 05 cm (mm) d = 05 cm
3
(g cm )

Bulk density,
d = 520 cm
(g cm 3)

Regression
c
Beta (P) Regression
Beta (P) Regression
Regression
b Beta (P)
coefficient (b)
coefficient (b)
coefficient (b)
coefficient (b)
Cassava shoots (kg ha 1 DM);
2
d
R = 0.38/0.21
Total biomass of cult. system
(kg ha 1 DM); R2 = 0.50/0.10d
Cassava plant height (cm); R2 = 0.34/0.19d
Cassava, number of apices P/plant;
17.3
R2 = 0.88/0.07d
Cassava leaf formation ratee;
2
d
R = 0.50/0.14
a

4479

3529 0.35*

11241

8553 0.31

1037
7

0.30

968

6565

5845

1.10*

1917

1587

1.22*

Percentage share of
aggregates < 1 mm
in air-dried soil,
d = 520 cma
Beta (P) Regression
Beta (P)
coefficient (b)

0.30*
458 141

0.87

**

418

118

1.60

***

On a w/w basis.
Coefficient: measures the significance, i.e. the change of the target variable caused by a change of the independent variable by one unit (mathematically: Dy = Dx
coefficient).
c
Beta: measures relative importance of the independent variables (Beta = b Sx/Sy). Absolute values have to be taken. For example 1.10 is more important than 0.35. Values
are to be compared within a dependent variable only. Confidence level: *P <0.05; **P < 0.01; ***P < 0.001.
d
R2 value for model including categoric variables (site and treatment)/R2 value for model with soil parameters only.
e
New leaves per apex/21d.
b

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total variability in growth and production parameters
While our trial showed no significant correlation
in cassava cropping systems (Table 7). Cassava tuber
between cassava tuber yield and soil parameters, the
yield was not affected by the soil parameters at all.
farmers apply considerable amounts of nutrients in
Mean diameter of WSA of the top 5 cm of the soil
form of chicken manure (see Section 2), supposedly
was positively correlated to the production of cassava
to increase tuber yield. In contrast to the Rio Cabuyal
shoots, total biomass production of the cropping
watershed where constant N supply is provided for by
system, and cassava plant height.
the high organic matter content of the soils, cassava
Soil bulk density (520 cm depth) was negatively
yield was significantly improved by N applications in
correlated to cassava shoot production, plant height
other areas poor in organic matter (Howeler and
and leaf production rate, while bulk density (05 cm
Cadavid, 1990). With respect to P and K, there are
depth) was negatively correlated to the number of
several reasons, why the regular application of
apices per plant.
fertilizer is important. K removal at cassava harvest
1
An increased total N content enhanced the number
in this experiment was between 100 and 150 kg ha
of apices per cassava plant.
depending on cultivar and yield, so the amount of K
1
Combining the results of the discriminant analysis
fertilizer applied at planting (113 kg ha ) was hardly
(i.e. selection of the 11 proxies) with those of the
enough to make up for the loss at harvest. If cassava
SBRA suggested that soils with a low bulk density, a
is planted for several crop cycles, K becomes the
small size of aggregates in air-dried soil, a high
most limiting element (CIAT, 1992; Howeler and
percentage of macropores, a high water conductivity,
Cadavid,
1
a coarse texture, a high percentage of large WSA,
1990). The application of P (88 kg ha ) was much
1
high levels of pH, organic matter, N, Ca, Mg, and K
higher than the removal (1015 kg ha ), but the soil
increased plant growth and production compared to
P content at all locations was below the critical level
soils with the opposite characteristics.
allowing for 95% of the maximum yield (Howeler
The importance of aggregate stability for soil
and Cadavid, 1990), which fully justified the high P
fertility and crop production has already been shown
doses applied by the farmers.
in a number of trials from the temperate and tropical
In addition, the chicken manure used by the
zones (Karlen et al., 1992; Reining, 1992). These
farmers had very high organic matter content (75% of
aggregates provide good growing conditions during
DM). On the long run, this will help to improve
phases of increased rainfall by preventing soil
aggregate stability and to reduce soil bulk density,
puddling and reducing soil erosion (Balesdent, 1997).
which in turn will have a positive effect on crop
Soils with low bulk density and a high macropore/
growth and production and will decrease
micropore ratio exert little physical resistance on
susceptibility to erosion.
tubers and increase cassava above ground growth and
production due to a feedback mechanism described
by Masle (1999) which reduces above ground growth
4. Conclusions
as soon as root growth gets impeded.
Since bulk density was negatively correlated to
Mixed cropping systems used in the studies in Rio
both soil macroporosity and water conductivity (data
Cabuyal reduced cassava tuber yield and total
not shown) the negative correlations observed
biomass production of the cropping systems combetween soil bulk density and cassava top growth
pared to the cassava cultivar monocrops. When total
parameters underlined the importance for cassava
soil cover was improved compared to the cassava
growth of both good aeration and rapid drainage of
cultivar pure stands it was paralleled by reductions
excess water as observed by Rehm (1991). The
in terms of cassava tuber yield. These findings were
positive response of cassava above ground growth to
in contrast to the mixture concept which seeks to
increased N (increased number of apices with higher
increase productivity and soil cover compared to
N level; Table 7) has been observed before by
monocropping by improving the use of natural
Howeler and Cadavid (1983), Olasantan et al. (1994,
resources and farmer inputs (Mutsaers et al., 1993).
1997) and in various field trials at CIAT (CIAT,
The results indicated that in terms of tuber
1992).
production and soil cover plant-to-plant cassava
cultivar mix- tures are in fact no improvement
compared to cultivar

monocrops. They raised questions concerning the


ideal characteristics of a cassava cultivar and its
partner crop planted in species mixtures. Based on
our findings a cassava cultivar with low
competition ability and high harvest index should be
combined with a fast maturing intercrop. The plants
morphol- ogy and cassava branching type have to be
taken into account. Though the contrasting
morphologies of cassava cultivar SM and upland
rice seemed to combine well in soils providing good
growth conditions for rice, our experiment clearly
showed that for the vast majority of soil
characteristics-soil preparation combinations rice is
not a suitable intercrop partner for cassava under
the low input practices applied in Rio Cabuyal.
Fast growing and highly competitive species with
late maturity, e.g. C. brasiliensis should not be
planted together with cassava right from the start of
the cropping cycle. Other cropping systems different
from cassava cultivar mixtures and intercropping
systems need to be developed. Farmers in Rio
Cabuyal are experi- menting with cassava cultivated
in strips between perennial barriers of grass and
blackberry planted on the contour in order to
reduce soil erosion (Mu ller- Sa mann, 1997). In
addition, cassava plantings consisting of different
blocks of cassava varieties, would provide some of
the potential advantages of more diverse cropping
systems, but avoid the negative effects of strong
intergenotype and interspecies competition observed
in these experiments. Our results showed that not
depending on a specific cropping system
production is increased by the cultivation of
improved and locally adapted cassava cultivars with
adequate fertilization.
Nevertheless, it will not be possible to resolve all
problems related to cassava monocropping with more
diverse cassava cropping systems. In the Cauca
department, improving of the fallow is another
obvious option. Instead of intercropping C. brasiliensis with cassava, the legume could be cultivated
in pure stands during the fallow period or it could be
sown in fields going to the fallow period after the
next cassava harvest as soon as the cassava crop is
fully established. C. brasiliensis could play an
important role as nutrient pump producing large
amounts of green manure. These studies showed that
taking advantage of the theoretical potential of
species mixtures needs careful selection of the
mixing

partners for maximum complementarity. Cassava


cultivars for species mixture plantings are not easily
available and need to be selected under the same
micro-environmental conditions (i.e. in species mixtures) they are thought to be cultivated in practice.
Different management options and elements of
production systems need to be combined and tested
to improve overall productivity at the farm and at the
landscape level. These studies also demonstrated that
there is a need to test cropping systems at different
locations with varying environmental conditions over
an extended period of time.

Acknowledgements
We thank both the Direktion fu r Entwicklung
und Zusammenarbeit (DEZA) and the Zentrum
fu r Internationale Landwirtschaft (ZIL) for the
initial financing of this project. Additional financial
support for successful conclusion of field and
laboratory work in Colombia was provided by the
Hochstrasser- Stiftung at the Swiss Federal Institute
of Technology (ETH). The Centro Internacional de
Agricultura Tropical (CIAT) provided logistical
support during the practical phase of this study from
1996 to 1999. We thank the Drs. J.I. Sanz, B. Knapp
and K. Mu ller- Saemann at CIAT for many fruitful
discussions and helpful hints. We are indebted to the
hillside farmers Julio Hurtado, Lizardo Campo,
Jeremias Chocue, Merardo Mun oz, and Luis
Guastumal in Pescador, Cauca, Colombia who
offered the experimental fields and shared valuable
knowledge and experience with us.
Special thanks go to Dr. Carlos Moreno of
Cenican a in Palmira, Valle del Cauca, Colombia
for statistical support.

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