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Influence of Long-Term Permanent Raised Beds and Contour Furrowing on Soil Health in Conservation Agriculture Based Systems in Tigray Region, Ethiopia
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  • Tesfay Araya,
  • Alemu Fanta,
  • Frédéric Baudron,
  • Mengsteab Hailemariam,
  • Emiru Birhane,
  • Jan Nyssen,
  • B Govaerts,
  • Wim Cornelis
Tesfay Araya
University of Fort Hare
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Alemu Fanta
Mekelle University
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Frédéric Baudron
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre
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Mengsteab Hailemariam
University of Science and Technology of China
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Emiru Birhane
Mekelle University
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Jan Nyssen
Ghent University
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B Govaerts
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre
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Wim Cornelis
Ghent University
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Abstract

Conservation agriculture (CA) systems represent a set of three soil management principles that include minimal soil disturbance, permanent soil cover and crop rotations whereas the CA-based systems in this study add the bed and furrow tillage structures as integral elements of CA. This study aimed at investigating the long-term (2005-2013) influence of CA-based systems on soil health and crop productivity in northern Ethiopia. The treatments include two types of CA-based systems (permanent raised bed PRB and contour furrowing CF) and conventional tillage (CT). The experimental layout was arranged in a randomized complete block design. Soil samples were collected at 0-10 cm soil depth to assess soil health. Wheat root samples were used to measure arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) colonization percentage using grid line intersect method. Piecewise structural equation modeling (PSEM) was used to understand linkages between management practices, soil health and crop productivity. Higher soil microbial biomass carbon (SMBC), AMF spore abundance and root colonization were recorded in PRB followed by CF as compared to CT (P < 0.05). Carbon sequestration rate, nutrient availability, plant available water capacity and air capacity were significantly higher in PRB and CF compared to CT. Outputs of the PSEM highlighted two pathways in which CA-based systems contributed to improved productivity: (1) via higher density of bacteria and improved hydraulic conductivity, and (2) via higher density of fungi and increase soil organic carbon content in the topsoil. The study concludes that CA-based systems have the potential to improve crop productivity through improved soil health.

Peer review status:IN REVISION

31 Mar 2020Submitted to Land Degradation & Development
04 Apr 2020Submission Checks Completed
04 Apr 2020Assigned to Editor
07 Apr 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
20 May 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
23 May 2020Editorial Decision: Revise Major
30 Jul 20201st Revision Received
31 Jul 2020Assigned to Editor
31 Jul 2020Submission Checks Completed
16 Aug 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
22 Aug 2020Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
29 Aug 20202nd Revision Received
07 Sep 2020Assigned to Editor
07 Sep 2020Submission Checks Completed