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Advances in Agriculture
Volume 2019, Article ID 4681825, 8 pages
https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/4681825
Research Article

Optimizing Nitrogen Fertilization Regimes for Sustainable Maize (Zea mays L.) Production on the Volcanic Soils of Buea Cameroon

1Department of Agronomic and Applied Molecular Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, University of Buea, P.O. Box 63, Buea, South West Region, Cameroon
2Institute of Agricultural Research for Development (IRAD) Ekona, P.O. Box 25, Buea, South West Region, Cameroon

Correspondence should be addressed to Christopher Ngosong; moc.oohay@kgnosogn

Received 22 February 2019; Revised 18 June 2019; Accepted 7 July 2019; Published 24 July 2019

Academic Editor: Othmane Merah

Copyright © 2019 Christopher Ngosong et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Nitrogen (N) fertilizer is commonly used to improve soil fertility and maize production in Cameroon, but high cost and potential environmental effects have necessitated site-specific N fertilization regimes that are adapted to particular soil and crop types. A field experiment was conducted with five N application rates (control–0, 50, 100, 150, and 200 kg N ha−1) to determine optimum rate for best maize yield with limited effect on soil acidification. The soil residual N ranged from 0.18 to 0.36% across N application rates and increased at higher application rates with the highest in 150 and 200 kg N ha−1. Soil C/N ratio ranged from 7.5 to 15.5 across N rates with the highest in control, which decreased at higher N application rates. Soil pH ranged from 4.7 to 5.4 across N rates, with the lowest in 200 kg N ha−1 rate. Maize grain yield and cob length ranged from 7.1 to 10.3 t ha−1 and from 14.5 to 18 cm across N rates, respectively, with the highest in 150 and 200 kg N ha−1. Maize 1000-grain weight ranged from 380 to 560 g across N application rates with the highest in 100, 150, and 200 kg N ha−1. Significant negative correlations occurred between soil pH and maize yield or 1000-grain weight. Maize N use efficiency decreased sharply at higher N application rates, as demonstrated by a strong negative correlation between the N-Partial Factor Productivity and total soil N. Overall, the lower soil pH at higher N application rates highlights the potential for deleterious effects of N fertilizer inputs on arable soils, which may eventually affect crop productivity, thereby suggesting lower N fertilization regimes between 50 and 100 kg N ha−1 as the optimum for maize production on the volcanic soils of Buea.