Agroeconomic Analysis of Fertilizer Effects on Maize/Cowpea Intercrop in Ile-Ife and Abeokuta, Southwestern Nigeria
Optimizing crop yield and farm income levels under continuous cropping system makes external sourcing of nutrients inevitable. The integration of leguminous plants into maize-based crop production systems have been identified as an environmentally-friendly and profitable technology for promoting food security and incomes of poor rural farming households. This paper investigates the effects of different levels of inorganic nitrogen fertilizer on DMRE-SRY cultivar of maize output, and determines the economic benefits derivable in a maize/ cowpea intercrop production system in the rain forest and derived savanna zones of southwestern Nigeria.Â With maize and cowpea maintained separately at a spacing of 0.90 m x 0.20 m and 0.90 m x 0.30 m, respectively, with two seeds per hill, a plant population of 111,111 and 74,074 were obtained per hectare for each crop during the 2003, 2004 and 2005 experimental periods. The two component crops were planted in strip rows of 2:2 cowpea in between maize. Data were collected on inputs and costs, as well as on crop outputs and prices. Data were analysed with descriptive statistics and budgetary technique. Results showed that maize grain yield was highly influenced by fertilizer levels. The highest grain yield of 4.07 t/ha recorded in the rain forest was significantly higher than the 2.1 t/ha obtained for the derived savanna zone at the 135 kg N/ha level of fertilizer application. The gross margin of maize increased from N31,950 at 90 kg N/ha to N52,520 at 135 kg N/ha in the forest while a reduction in loss was obtained for the savanna zone as fertilizer levels increased from 90 kg N/ha to 135 kg N/ha. The promotion of maize/ cowpea intercrop at appropriate fertilizer use levels is, therefore, a promising agronomic practice for promoting sustainable maize production in the study area.
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