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Arem 2004 Volume VI:58-64 Ethiopian Weed Science Society, 2004

Relay cropping of Sesbania sesban and Cajanus cajan in sorghum for grain yield improvement and Striga control
Wondimu Bayu1*, Fasil Reda2, A.O. Esilaba3 and J.K. Ransom4
1 2

Sirinka Agricultural Research Center, P.O. Box 74, Weldia, Welo, Ethiopia Melkasa Agricultural Research Center, EARO, P.O. Box 436, Nazret, Ethiopia 3 African Highlands Initiative, P.O. Box 5689, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 4 CIMMYT, P.O. Box 25171, Nairobi, Kenya

Abstract
Striga hermonthica is a serious parasitic weed affecting a large proportion of the arable land in Welo, northern Ethiopia. An experiment was conducted for two years both on-farm and on-station to assess the effect of a factorial combination of relay planting three leguminous trees/shrubs (no tree, Cajanus cajan, and Sesbania sesban) and applying three levels of the recommended fertilizer rates (0%, 50% and 100% 0f 100 kg ha-1 DAP and 50 kg ha-1 Urea) on striga infestation, sorghum yield and soil fertility improvement. The results indicate that relay cropping of S. sesban and C. cajan with sorghum gave grain yield benefits of 98-143% and 33-41%, respectively. The application of 100% of the recommended fertilizer rate gave the highest grain yield. Relay cropping of Sesbania sesban with fertilizer application reduced striga count by 20-75%. The effect of relay cropping of Cajanus cajan on striga count was not consistent. Keywords: Cajanus cajan, relay cropping, Sesbania sesban, sorghum, Striga hermonthica.

Introduction
In Welo, northern Ethiopia Striga hermonthica (Del.) Benth infests a large proportion of the arable land, nearly 85-90%, where farmers have identified it as the most important constraint to cereal production (Esilaba et al., 1998). In this area, where per capita land holding is extremely small, agriculture is intensive and neither fallowing nor crop rotation is practiced. As a result, a steady decline in soil fertility and soil organic matter is occurring, which in turn favors striga infestation. Yield losses on heavily infested soils in this region could reach as high as 65-100% (Ejeta et al., 1993). Many farmers in Welo found it difficult to accommodate this much yield loss.

Corresponding author.

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Soils with low fertility status which are exhausted by many years of cropping and erosion are preferred by the parasite to reproduce and infest crops (Vogt et al., 1991). Most striga infested areas in Welo are managed traditionally with low inputs and are cropped continuously to cereals, leading to a build up of the parasite seed bank in the soil. Hence, improving the fertility status of the soil would minimize the damage incurred by striga infestation. Leguminous trees and shrubs such as Sesbania sesban, Cajanus cajan and Leucaena diversifolia have been reported to increase soil fertility and/or cause suicidal germination of striga seeds, thereby reducing the level of striga infestation (Oswald et al., 1996; Sjogren, 1996). In a laboratory and greenhouse studies in Kenya, it was reported that Sesbania sesban and Leucaena diversifolia stimulated striga seed germination in the soil, just as maize and sorghum do (Oswald et al., 1996; Sjogren, 1996). It was also reported that sesbania trees actually reduced the number of striga seeds in the soil by 34%, while maize without sesbania increased the striga seed population by 11% (Sjogren, 1996). Beyond stimulating striga germination, these trees can produce substantial amounts of dry matter that can be used as green manure or mulch to improve soil fertility. In situations where farmers cannot afford to take land out of production for fallowing, a short-term tree fallow can be incorporated into cropping systems by relay cropping trees with crops. The main objective of this study was to evaluate the potential of Sesbania sesban and Cajanus cajan for soil fertility improvement and striga control through relay cropping with sorghum.

Materials and Methods


The study was conducted in the 1996 and 1997 seasons at the Sirinka Agricultural Research Center both on-station and on-farm. The soil at Sirinka (on-station) is a eutric Vertisol containing 1.45% OC, 0.09% total N, 8.88 ppm available P (Olsen), and a pH of 6.54 in the top 20 cm soil layer. The experimental design was a randomized complete block (RCB) in three replications. Treatments were comprised of factorial combination of the three tree types (no tree, Cajanus cajan and Sesbania sesban) and three fertilizer levels (0%, 50% and 100% of the recommended rate of 100 kg DAP and 50 kg urea ha-1). Seedlings of sesbania and seeds of cajanus were established along with sorghum in 1996 at a spacing of 1.5 x 1 m and 1 x 0.4 m, respectively. After sorghum harvest in 1996, trees were allowed to grow for the remaining of the dry season. Prior to planting sorghum the next season, sesbania and cajanus leaves, pods and small branches (less than 6 mm) were incorporated into the soil. An average cajanus biomass of 13 and 14.7 t ha-1 and sesbania biomass of 11.9 and 28.8 t ha -1, were incorporated into the soil before sorghum planting in 1997 for the on-station and on-farm experiments respectively. Sorghum cv. IS9302 (in 1996) and 76T1#23 (in 1997) were planted in 5 rows of 5 m length at 75 x 15 cm spacing. Data on sorghum grain yield and yield components were recorded for analysis. Striga emergence was counted at two

Wondimu et al.: Relay cropping in sorghum for Striga control / 60 week intervals from the first time of emergence. Grain yield is reported at a storage moisture content of 12.5%. Data were subjected to analysis of variance using MSTATC software.

Results and Discussion


Grain yield In 1996, the sorghum variety used both on-station and on-farm was a striga susceptible and late maturing variety, IS 9302, which normally requires an extended growing season. Under the typical short and dry growing season in Welo, this variety failed to produce a grain yield, although it gave an insignificant yield (181 to 904 kg ha-1) on-station (data not shown). During the second season, 1997, using an early maturing variety (76 T1 #23), significant grain yield differences were observed both at the on-station and onfarm experiments due to the main treatment effects of tree and fertilizer treatments. Tree by fertilizer interaction was significant only under on-farm condition (Tables 1 and 2). The main treatment effects of relay planting cajanus and sesbania gave significantly higher yields compared to the no tree treatment at both locations. However, the highest grain yields were obtained with relay planting sesbania (Tables 1 and 2). Relay planting S. sesban gave grain yield benefits of 98% and 143% under on-station and on-farm, respectively. Similarly, the respective grain yield benefits from cajanus were 33% and 41%. With regard to fertilizer treatments, the application of 50% and 100% of the recommended fertilizer rate gave significantly higher grain yields compared to the control at both locations. The highest grain yields were recorded with the application of 100% of the recommended fertilizer rate (Tables 1 and 2). Tree by fertilizer interactions were significant only in the on-farm experiment, whereby relay planting sesbania at all levels of fertilizer application gave significantly higher grain yields (Table 2). Stover yield Stover yield was significantly affected by tree treatments at both locations and by fertilizer treatment at on-station. Tree by fertilizer interaction was not significant in either location (Tables 3 and 4). The results indicated that significantly higher stover yields of 4934 and 4017 kg ha-1 were obtained from relay planting sesbania with respective stover yield benefits of 133% and 143% over the control under on-station and on-farm conditions (Tables 3 and 4). Stover yields obtained by relay planting cajanus were statistically non-significant compared to the control; however, stover yields increased by 34% and 40% under on-station and on-farm conditions, respectively (Tables 3 and 4). Significantly higher stover yields were obtained with the application of 50 and

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100% of the recommended fertilizers rate in the on-station experiment. However, under the on-farm conditions stover yields increased with fertilizer applications but not at significant level (Tables 3 and 4). Striga infestation Striga infestation was high at on-farm in both seasons, ranging from 12.7 to 18.9 and 11.9 to 47.4 shoots m-2 in 1996 and 1997, respectively. In the 1996 on-farm experiment there were no significant differences in striga count due to treatments. The probable reason could be that the tree growth and establishment was retarded due to the long dry spells early in the season thus having no effect on striga. However, in the second season, there were significant tree and tree by fertilizer interaction effects on striga count. Relay planting cajanus with 100% fertilizer rate and sesbania with 50% and 100% fertilizer rates had significantly reduced striga count compared to the no tree control. Relay planting cajanus without fertilizer application had significantly increased striga count relative to sesbania and the control. Application of 50% of the recommended fertilizer rate in the no tree treatment also significantly increased striga count. However, the combination of the tree legumes and 50% of the recommended fertilizer rate had significantly reduced striga count (data not shown). Results of the on-station experiments revealed that the level of striga emergence was low, ranging from 0.43 to 8.73 and 0.87 to 16.5 shoots m-2 in 1996 and 1997, respectively. In 1996, there were significant tree and tree by fertilizer interaction effects on striga count. Striga count was significantly reduced by relay planting sesbania with fertilizer application. Striga count in the no tree treatments was also significantly reduced with the application of fertilizer. However, striga count was significantly increased by relay planting cajanus with the application of fertilizer. Without fertilizer application, both cajanus and sesbania had reduced striga count relative to the no tree treatment. In the second season, only the tree by fertilizer interaction effects were significant on striga count. However, the trend in striga count was similar to the first season. Striga count decreased with increasing levels of fertilizer application in the no tree treatments and also with relay planting sesbania. Application of 100% of the recommended fertilizer rate alone and with relay planting sesbania had significantly reduced striga count, but striga count increased with relay planting cajanus with the application of fertilizer.

Conclusion
The results presented in this paper represent a new approach in Ethiopia based on relay planting of tree species, and are the results of only two seasons. It is, therefore, necessary to confirm these results over several areas and seasons as the effects on the striga seed bank can only be observed after several years. Nonetheless, based on this initial result, the following can be concluded. Relay planting S. sesban with sorghum resulted in a grain yield benefit of 98-143% and reduced striga count by 20-75% compared to the control. Relay planting C. cajan, although gave a yield benefit of 33-41% over the control, did not affect striga count consistently. Hence, the effects of C. cajan on striga count need to be investigated further in laboratory and field studies. The application of 100% of the recommended fertilizer rate increased grain yield and reduced striga emergence.

Wondimu et al.: Relay cropping in sorghum for Striga control / 62 The results of this experiment agree with findings in Kenya (Oswald et al., 1996; Sjogren, 1996) and show that sesbania has the potential to reduce striga infestation and could serve as one component in the integrated striga management effort. The use of sesbania in a managed relay planting system directed towards controlling striga appears encouraging, as this species can induce high levels of suicidal germination.

Acknowledgment
We acknowledge financial support from the AHI through the striga/IPM program.

References
Ejeta G., L. Butler and A.G.T. Babiker. 1993. New approach to the control of Striga. Research at Purdue University, Agricultural Experimentation Station. West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University. Esilaba, A.O., Fasil Reda, Tilahun Mulatu, J.K. Ransom, G. Woldewahid, A. Tesfaye, I. Fitwy and G. Abate. 1998. Participatory rural appraisal on Striga in the northern Ethiopian highlands. Arem Vol. 4: 1-12. Oswald, A., H. Frost, J.K. Ransom, J. Kroschel, K. Sheperd, and J. Sauerbern. 1996. Studies on the potential for improved fallow using trees and shrubs to reduce striga infestations in Kenya. pp. 795-800. In: M.T. Moreno et al., eds. Advances in parasitic plant research. Proceedings of the 6th International Symposium on Parasitic Weeds. Cordoba, Spain. Sjogren, H. 1996. Sorting out Striga with Sesbania. Spore 63: 6. Vogt, W., J. Sauerborn and M. Honisch. 1991. Striga hermonthica distribution and infestation in Ghana and Togo on grain crops. pp. 372-377. In: J.K. Ransom et al., eds. Proceedings of the 5th International Symposium on Parasitic Weeds. Nairobi, Kenya.

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Table 1. Sorghum grain yield (kg ha-1) as affected by relay cropping (on-station, 1997). Fertilizer (F) Tree (T) 0% 50% 100% Tree meana No tree 1380 2233 2512 2041c Cajanus cajan 2028 2892 3241 2721b Sesbania sesban 3764 4095 4236 4032a Fertilizer meanb 2391b 3073a 3330a LSD (0.05) T = 483.8; F = 483.8; T x F = NS C.V.(%) 16.52
a b

Means followed by the same letter(s) within a column are not significantly different at the 5% level according to the DMRT. Means followed by the same letter(s) within a row are not significantly different at the 5% level according to the DMRT.

Table 2. Sorghum grain yield (kg ha-1) as affected by relay cropping (on-farm, 1997). Fertilizer (F) Tree (T) 0% 50% 100% Tree meana No tree 482e 865de 1284cd 877c Cajanus cajan 845de 1210cd 1647bc 1234b Sesbania sesban 2209ab 2235a 1945b 2130a Fertilizer meanb 1179b 1437ab 1626a LSD (0.05) T = 272.5; F = 272.5; T x F = 472 C.V.(%) 19.2
a b

Tree means followed by the same letter(s) within a column are not significantly different at the 5% level according to the DMRT. Fertilizer means followed by the same letter(s) within a row are not significantly different at the 5% level according to the DMRT.

Table 3. Sorghum stover yield (kg ha-1) as affected by relay cropping (on-station, 1997). Fertilizer (F) Tree (T) 0% 50% 100% Tree meana No tree 1427 2289 2636 2117b Cajanus cajan 2241 3402 2888 2843b Sesbania sesban 3875 5237 5691 4934a Fertilizer meanb 2514b 3643a 3738a LSD (0.05) T = 803.1; F = 803.1; T x F = NS C.V.(%) 24.3
a b

Tree means followed by the same letter(s) within a column are not significantly different at the 5% level according to the DMRT. Fertilizer means followed by the same letter(s) within a row are not significantly different at the 5% level according to the DMRT.

Table 4. Sorghum stover yield (kg ha-1) as affected by relay cropping (on-farm, 1997). Tree (T) 0% 50% Fertilizer (F) 100% Tree meana

Wondimu et al.: Relay cropping in sorghum for Striga control /

No tree Cajanus cajan Sesbania sesban Fertilizer mean LSD (0.05)


a

895 1976 2088 1653b 1737 2594 2602 2311b 4328 3867 3855 4017a 2320 2812 2849 T = 681.7; F = NS; T x F = NS C.V.(%) 25.6

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Means followed by the same letter(s) within a column are not significantly different at the 5% level according to the DMRT.