Land Preparation Methods and Weeding Frequency Effects on Soil Properties and Maize Performance

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A field experiment was conducted on a Ferric Acrisol soils under rainfed conditions during the 2010 minor and 2011 major cropping seasons in Kumasi, Ghana, to determine the effect of land preparation method and weeding frequency on soil properties, Akposoe maize (Zea mays .L) variety performance and weed dry matter. A factorial design with two factors namely land preparation and weeding frequency was used. The land preparation treatments were no tillage, and ploughing followed by harrowing while the weeding frequency treatments consisted of hand hoeing at 2, 5 and 7 weeks after planting (WAP). The fourth weeding frequency treatment was no weed control (0-Hoeing). Over the course of the study, the ploughing followed by harrowing treatment gave more favourable soil conditions including lower soil penetration resistance, lower dry bulk density, higher soil moisture content and higher total porosity in comparison with the no tillage treatment. In general, the no weed control treatment produced the worst soil conditions for Akposoe maize plant growth. Ploughing followed by harrowing resulted in higher seedling emergence compared with that of the no tillage treatment. At 10 WAP, the ploughing followed by harrowing treatment produced better growth and yield parameters in terms of plant height, stem girth, number of leaves per plant, leaf area, root length, dry matter yield, yield components and yield compared with the no tillage treatment. Similarly, at 10 WAP, hand hoeing at 2 WAP presented the best growth and yield parameters in comparison with the other weeding frequency treatments. Therefore, considering soil and weather conditions, ploughing followed by harrowing with two hoeings at 2 and 5 WAP is the best alternative for the production of the Akposoe maize variety.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Agricultural Engineering, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Agricultural Machinery Engineering.