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Yield stability of cowpea cultivars in rice-based cropping systems: Experimentation and simulation

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There is potential in cultivating cowpeas (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.) in rice-based cropping systems in the humid tropics as a source of proteins for humans, forage for ruminants, and for improvement of soil fertility. Seasonal and yearly variability is, however, a major constraint. A statistical stability model and a mechanistic simulation model were used to quantify yield variability of early and medium maturity groups of cowpea cultivars in pre- and post-rice environments at Los Baños, Philippines.Four field experiments, with 24 cultivars in each experiment, were conducted in pre- and post-rice environments, to determine the response of the cultivars to varying moisture and to water table depth regimes, and a stability analysis was performed across the regimes using a statistical model. In the post-rice environment, irrespective of moisture and water table depth regimes, the medium maturing cultivars tended to outyield early maturing cultivars, whereas in the pre-rice environment, early maturity demonstrated a distinct yield advantage.The statistical stability model indicated that medium maturing cultivars performed well in high-yielding environments, whereas in low-yielding environments their yields were comparable with those of early maturing types. However, results of the statistical stability model are limited because of the short time series of basic data. To broaden the analysis, a simulation model of the cowpea crop was calibrated and validated for its performance. Measured and simulated dry weights of crop parts (leaves, stems and pods) and soil moisture contents at 10-cm soil depths throughout the growing season indicated satisfactory performance of the simulation model. Long-term simulation results using the validated model indicate that TVX1948-012F (medium maturity) performs betters (800–2250 kg ha1) than IT82D-889 (early maturity) (430–1620 kg ha1) with a fluctuating shallow water table in the post-rice environment, whereas IT82D-889 is superior (80–1150 kg ha1) to TV1948-012F (30–1150 kg ha1) in the pre-rice environment. Yields are highest and least variable for the 15 January planting in the post-rice environment, and for the 15 April planting in the pre-rice environment.

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