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Designing low-input upland rice-based cropping systems with conservation agriculture for climate change adaptation: A six-year experiment in M'bé, Bouaké, Côte d'Ivoire

Husson O., Tano B.E., Saito K.. 2022. Field Crops Research, 277 : 14 p..

DOI: 10.1016/j.fcr.2021.108418

Climate change models predict an increase in climate variability in the future, with more rainfall extremes and greater risks, causing a negative impact on crops produced by smallholders in West Africa. Conservation Agriculture (CA) systems can be effective in mitigating yield loss in environments with increased weather risk. This study aimed to evaluate CA cropping systems that can minimize both economic and climatic risks under erratic climatic conditions in West Africa. We tested upland rice-based CA systems and conventional systems with tillage (CT), in rotation with maize in some of the cases, without and with fertilization, at different sowing windows in the Bouaké region, Côte d'Ivoire, from 2015 to 2020. Sowing in June showed in a higher rice yield (1183 kg ha-1 and 1370 kg ha-1 without and with fertilization, on average over the 2017¿2020 period) than in March (521 kg ha-1 and 495 kg ha-1 without and with fertilization) or in July or August (335 kg ha-1 and 498 kg ha-1 without and with fertilization). During the first four years, rice yields tended to be lower under the CA systems than under the CT systems, especially when water availability was not a major constraint. However, after this transition period, and especially when water stress occurred, as in 2020, rice yields under CA systems (1835¿2021 and 2147¿2254 kg ha-1 without and with fertilization) were higher than under CT systems (1350 kg ha-1 and 1435 kg ha-1 without and with fertilization). CA systems having relatively longer duration for growing cover crops tended to produce higher upland rice yield grown in the subsequent season. In both CT and CA systems, the impact of fertilization on rice yield was small over the study period, and the mean rice yield increase due to fertilization was on average 451 kg ha-1 even when rice was sown in the summer season, resulting in negative economic return. These results indicate that whereas low-input CA upland rice-based systems together with optimizing sowing window for rice could be promising options for sustaining rice yield and mitigating yield loss in environments with increased weather risk, further research is needed for reducing transition period to CA systems in order to enhance their adoption by smallholder farmers. Desirable cover crops should be less labor-demanding, generate incomes from their products, and produce large biomass under erratic climatic conditions.

Mots-clés : adaptation aux changements climatiques; agriculture de conservation; agriculture faible niveau intrants; riz pluvial; changement climatique; côte d'ivoire

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