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Applied and Environmental Soil Science
Volume 2012, Article ID 243815, 8 pages
Research Article

The Effect of Rainfall Characteristics and Tillage on Sheet Erosion and Maize Grain Yield in Semiarid Conditions and Granitic Sandy Soils of Zimbabwe

Department of Land and Water Resources Management, Midlands State University, P.O. Box 9055, Gweru, Zimbabwe

Received 4 November 2011; Revised 15 January 2012; Accepted 16 January 2012

Academic Editor: María Cruz Díaz Álvarez

Copyright © 2012 Adelaide Munodawafa. 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.


In semiarid regions, rainfall is one of the primary factors affecting soil erosion and crop production under rain-fed agriculture. The study sought to quantify the effect of rainfall characteristics on sheet erosion and maize grain yield under different tillage systems. It was carried out under semiarid conditions and infertile sandy soils of Zimbabwe. Rainfall amount and intensity were recorded every 24 hours, while sheet erosion was measured from four tillage systems (Conventional Tillage (CT), Mulch Ripping (MR), Tied Ridging (TR) and Bare Fallow (BF)). Maize (Zea mays L.) was grown on three tillage systems (CT, MR, and TR). Rainfall amount varied significantly (P<0.001) between seasons (164–994 mm). CT recorded the highest average soil losses (15 t/ha), while MR and TR recorded 1.3 and 1.2 t/ha, respectively. Maize grain yields increased with increasing seasonal rainfall giving yield-responses of 0.9 t/ha (TR) to 1.3 t/ha (MR) for every 100 mm rainfall increment. Overall, treatments didnot differ significantly (P<0.497), except during drier seasons (P<0.025). Regression equations showed that yields can be confidently predicted using rainfall amount and time, with R2 values of 0.82 to 0.94. Maize grain yields proved to be mostly dependent on rainfall amount than fertility. The productivity of the soils decreased with increased length of cultivation.