Influence of Management Practices on Selected Cowpea Growth Attributes and Soil Organic Carbon

  •  E. T. Sebetha    
  •  A. T. Modi    


Cowpea is a multi-purpose nitrogen fixing crop that can be grown as a vegetable, grain legume and a fodder. The objectives of this study were to investigate the growth response of cowpea to different cropping systems at different locations and determine nitrogen fertilization on cowpea growth and soil organic carbon content. Three cropping systems were used, namely, maize-cowpea rotation, cowpea monocropping and maize-cowpea intercropping at three locations (Potchefstroom, Taung, and Rustenburg) in South Africa during 2011/12 and 2012/13 planting seasons. Nitrogen fertilizer was applied at two rates where no application was the control at all locations and application according to soil analysis recommendation for maize requirement was applied at each location. The variables measured for cowpea growth were days to 100% flowering and physiological maturity, number of leaves and nodules per cowpea plant. Soil organic carbon was determined for each treatment. The results showed that, maize-cowpea rotation and monocropping reached days to 100% flowering and maturity significantly earlier compared to intercropping. Cowpea planted at Potchefstroom and Rustenburg reached days to 100% flowering and physiological maturity significantly earlier than cowpea planted at Taung. Cowpea planted at Taung had significantly higher number of nodules per plant than cowpea planted at Potchefstroom and Rustenburg. There was also a positive correlation between soil organic carbon and cowpea growth. It is concluded that the positive effect of cowpea in agronomic systems is enhanced by the correct cropping system, although it is affected by location.

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