Integrated Weed and Nutrient Management Improve Yield, Nutrient Uptake and Economics of Maize in the Rice-Maize Cropping System of Eastern India
Increasing productivity of maize while decreasing production costs and maintaining soil health are emerging challenges for the rice–maize system in South Asia. A range of integrated nutrient and weed management practices were tested in winter maize for their effects on yield, profitability, and soil health. The nutrient management treatments were a partial substitution of nitrogen with bulky (Farmyard manure; vermicompost) and concentrated organic manures (Brassicaceous seed meal, BSM; neem
... meal, BSM; neem cake), whereas weed management practices compared chemical controls only versus an integrated approach. The N supplementation through BSM diminished the weed growth by reducing weed N uptake, and enhanced the maize crop uptake of nutrients. As compared to the sole chemical approach, atrazine-applied pre-emergence followed by hoeing reduced weed density by 58 and 67% in years 1 and 2, respectively. The N supplementation through BSM resulted in the maximum yield of maize grain (6.13 and 6.50 t ha−1 in year 1 and year 2, respectively) and this treatment increased yield in year 2 compared to N application through synthetic fertilizer. Hoeing in conjugation with herbicide enhanced the maize grain yield by 9% over herbicide alone. The maximum net return and economic efficiency were achieved with the application of BSM for N supplementation, together with the integrated weed management practice.