The southern region of Mozambique is characterized by arid to semi-arid climatic
conditions with soils of poor fertility and low water retention capacity. The rainfall season
is from September to April. In some areas, the rain season accommodates two production
cycles, which is augmented by extended or unexpected rains in May and June. Maize is the
main crop in this region. The major limiting factors for maize production in the Chókwè
District under rainfed agriculture are rainfall amount and its distribution and soil fertility.
Water productivity in this region is very low. The Challenge Program on Water and Food
(CPWF), for which the slogan was “more crop per drop”, has attempted to identify and
address water productivity constraints throughout the Limpopo River Basin (LRB). This
study considers the water productivity in dryland areas, assuming that yields may not be
only limited by water, but also by soil fertility. The study was aimed at investigating the
improvement of water productivity by correcting nutrient deficiencies and recommending
strategies to mitigate these deficiencies. A field experiment was conducted at Chókwè
Agrarian Research Centre with maize cultivar (cv. Matuba). Matuba was selected because
of its high tolerance to drought. Treatments were based on the most limiting soil nutrients
at the experimental site. Crop parameters measured included total dry matter, fractional
interception of photosynthetically active radiation (FIPAR), leaf area and grain yield. In
addition, the Soil Water Balance (SWB) model was used to simulate potential yields with
no nutrient limitations. Results of this study illustrated that the application of N resulted in
improvements in total dry matter yield, leaf area index (LAI), FIPAR and water use
efficiency (WUE). Application of both N and P improved the grain yield, leaf area duration
(LAD) and WUE. SWB model simulations indicate that in only 1 out of 5 years in Chókwè
District, the simulated yields were not higher compared to actual yields (0.2 - 1 ton ha-1).
In conclusion, grain yield improvements are expected if nutrition is kept at optimum levels.
This implies that in most years dryland yields are in fact nutrient limited and better
nutrition can be used as a strategy to improve water productivity (WP) and grain yield
Dissertation (MSc Agric)--University of Pretoria, 2011.