The Journal of Agricultural Science


Rotation and nitrogen fertilizer effects on pearl millet, cowpea and groundnut yield and soil chemical properties in a sandy soil in the semi-arid tropics, West Africa

A. BATIONO a1 and B. R. NTARE a2c1
a1 IFDC/ICRISAT-Niamey BP 12404 Niamey, Niger
a2 ICRISAT-Bamako BP 320, Bamako, Mali


A 5-year study was conducted from 1988 to 1992 at three sites in Niger to determine the effects of crop rotation of a cereal and legumes and nitrogen fertilizer on chemical properties of the soil (0–20 cm) and yield of pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R.BR.), cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.), and groundnut (Arachis hypogea L.). Four N levels and rotation treatments including continuous fallow were investigated. Soil samples taken from the top 20 cm depth at the end of the experiment from treatments without nitrogen application which included continuous fallow, fallow–millet rotation, groundnut–millet rotation, cowpea–millet rotation, and continuous millet were analysed for soil pH, organic carbon, total nitrogen and exchangeable bases. Fertilizer N significantly increased yield of pearl millet, cowpea and groundnut. Continuous monocropping of pearl millet resulted in lower yields across N levels compared to legume–millet rotations. Legume yields were also consistently lower in monoculture than when rotated with millet. There was a decline in organic matter under continuous millet, cowpea–millet rotation and groundnut–millet rotation. The fallow–millet rotation supplied more mineral N than the legume–millet rotations. Nitrogen availability was greater in cowpea–millet rotation than continuous millet. Crop rotation was more productive than the continuous monoculture but did not differ in maintaining soil organic matter. The legume–millet rotation at 30 kg/ha N appears to be the most viable for millet production. Research should focus on understanding the effect of legume/cereal intercrops and rotations on soil productivity.

(Received October 25 1999)

c1 To whom all correspondence should be addressed. Email: