Economic Yield and Profitability of Maize/Melon Intercrop as Influenced by Inorganic Fertilizer Application in Humid Forest Ultisol
The trial assessed the viability and profitability of maize and melon production under sole and mixed cropping system on a forest Ultisol. This was conducted as an on-farm trial at Evboneka, Edo State, Nigeria in April 2008 and 2009. The trial involved three cropping patterns (sole maize, sole melon and maize/melon mixture) and four levels of NPK fertilizer (0, 200, 400 and 600 kg ha-1) in a 3 × 4 factorial arrangement in randomized complete block design with three replications. The results revealed that economic yield of maize and melon increased as the fertilizer rate increase. The sole crops had higher yield than in their mixed stands in the entire fertilizer rate. However, land equivalent ratio (LER) values of the mixed crop stands were higher than in their respective sole cropping. The LER was highest (1.47) in maize/melon mixed stands treated with 400 kg NPK ha-1. The production cost and economic return followed the same trend as they increased with an increase in fertilizer rate. The sole melon crop had the lowest production cost ($ 316.50-588.51) and economic return ($ 873-1,305) in the entire fertilizer rate compared to the sole maize and maize/melon mixed crop in that order. The net farm income does not follow a definite trend among the three cropping patterns, but the maize/melon intercrop value ($ 748.11-997.52) was the highest. The optimum yield was produced from maize/melon mixed stands treated with 200 kg ha-1. This treatment also gave the highest benefit-cost ratio of 2.19, in addition to ensuring better crop diversity in the rainforest ultisol.
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