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Research article2008Peer reviewedOpen access

Effects of ploughing frequency and compost on soil aggregate stability in a cotton-maize (Gossypium hirsutum-Zea mays) rotation in Burkina Faso

Ouattara, K.; Ouattara, B.; Nyberg, G.; Sedogo, M. P.; Malmer, A.


Cropping systems have a strong influence on soil structural characteristics, including aggregate stability. An experiment combining compost (Co) and mineral fertilizer inputs with different tillage frequencies was conducted in a cotton-maize rotation system on two soil types (Lixisol and Luvisol) in Burkina Faso. The objective was to investigate an alternative soil fertility management regime that protects soil structure for cotton and maize production. We tested the hypothesis that organic fertilizer applications and reduced ploughing frequency can improve aggregate stability. The effects of reduced tillage (RT; ox-ploughing/hand hoe scarifying the next year) and annual ox-ploughing (AP) combined with Co and no compost (nCo) applications on the stability of soil aggregates subjected to wet sieving, were assessed. In the second year of the experiment (maize), the macroaggregate stability in the RT plots was 87% higher than in the AP plots on the Lixisol, 26% higher on the Luvisol. In the third year (cotton) the difference in treatment effects was less. The treatments influenced macroaggregate stability in the year of scarification, and the microaggregate stability in the year they were ploughed. We concluded that a soil management regime, with ploughing only every second year and with compost as well as mineral fertilizer inputs, is appropriate to replace the common practice of annual ploughing with application of mineral fertilizers in this cotton-maize cropping system.


aggregate stability; ploughing frequency; compost; cotton-maize; Burkina Faso

Published in

Soil Use and Management
2008, Volume: 24, number: 1, pages: 19-28 Publisher: BLACKWELL PUBLISHING