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Evaluation of Different Tillage Systems for Improved Agricultural Production in Drought-Prone Areas of Malawi

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Part of the Sustainable Development Goals Series book series (SDGS)


Climate change and variability is threatening agricultural production and adversely affecting the natural resource base, which provides a living for more than half of the world’s poorest people. Farmers have therefore in response, developed coping strategies to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change. However, most of these strategies have not been successful in some semi-arid areas owing to various challenges, including those that can be attributed to on-farm land and water resources management practices. This study was aimed at assessing the contribution of two different tillage systems (hand hoe and Magoye ripper) in climate change adaptation in agriculture, specifically on maize and sorghum crops in Chikwawa District in Malawi, a drought prone semi-arid area with perennial erratic rainfall pattern. These have been intensified of late by climate change. Three farmers’ fields were used to conduct community participatory research on farm learning activities. Data on maize and sorghum seed germination, seedling quality as well as grain yields were collected and analysed using GenStat. The results revealed that there were no statistically significant differences (p ≥ 0.05) in time taken to germinate, maize plant height and leaf size and number of leaves per plant under both hand hoe or Magoye ripper for both crops. It was however observed that despite the statistically insignificant differences in leaf size and number of leaves per plant, the relative number and length of either maize or sorghum leaves were superior under Magoye ripper tillage system. However, the results show statistically significant differences for grain weight, maize cob circumference, length and stover. In this case, maize yield and stover increased considerably (p ≤ 0.05) under Magoye than hand hoe. These traits therefore, can be used in decision making for the adoption of the Magoye ripper for climate change adaptation in the study area and its up-scaling in Malawi.


  • Climate change
  • Agriculture productivity
  • Land management practices
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Magoye ripper
  • Semi-arid

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-31543-6_12
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This research work was financially supported by the Rockefeller Foundation under the project Capacity Building for climate change adaptation in the agriculture sectors in Tanzania and Malawi; funding period 2011–2014. We gratefully acknowledge this support. The findings and views expressed are, however, the sole responsibility of the authors.

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Correspondence to Gertrude Jeremiah Sato .

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Sato, G.J., Joshua, M.K., Ngongondo, C., Chipungu, F., Malidadi, C., Monjerezi, M. (2020). Evaluation of Different Tillage Systems for Improved Agricultural Production in Drought-Prone Areas of Malawi. In: Matondo, J.I., Alemaw, B.F., Sandwidi, W.J.P. (eds) Climate Variability and Change in Africa . Sustainable Development Goals Series. Springer, Cham.

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