Mulching and Tied Ridges as A Moisture Conservation Strategy to Improve the Yield of Sorghum (Sorghum Bicolor) in Semi-Arid Parts of Swaziland

Abstract An experiment was conducted to determine the effectiveness of soil moisture conservation techniques on improving sorghum yield in a semi-arid rural area of Swaziland. The four treatments were; planting sorghum on flat soil (F), planting on tied ridges (T), planting on mulched soil (M) and planting on a combination of tied ridges and mulch (TM). Sorghum planted on flat soil was used as control in the experiment. The sorghum variety 8625 was planted. The experiment was complete randomized design and each treatment was replicated three times. The parameters measured were; grain yield, total biomass yield, soil moisture suction and grain moisture content at harvest. The grain yields from all the other treatments (mulching, tied ridges, tied ridges with mulching) were higher than those of the control (flat planting). The grain yield from TM was the highest at an average of 10.002 tons/ha. It was significantly different from that of T and F (p<0.05). The grain yields for M, T and F were 8.790 tons/ha, 8.202 tons/ha and 6.785 tons/ha respectively. Total dry matter yield was the highest for TM, at 36.980 tons/ha. Soil moisture suction for TM was the lowest at 11.6 centibars, indicating that moisture was readily available to the crop for a longer period than all the other treatments. Grain moisture content for all the treatments was below 20%, and the mean grain moisture content for all the treatments were not significantly different (p>0.05). The results showed that a combination of tied ridges and mulching provided superior results in terms of grain yield, dry matter yield and soil moisture suction. Mulching and tied ridges also yielded results that were better than the control (F).

Keywords Mulching, semi-arid, sorghum, tied ridges.

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