Soil water deficits during grain fill constrain crop production in semi-arid areas of Ethiopia. Skip-row planting is a means of saving soil water for grain fill while tie-ridging can improve soil water availability throughout the season by reducing runoff. The hypotheses were that where rainfall ceases before or during early grain fill 1) maize (Zea mays L.) and sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L. Moench) yield can be increased by skip-row planting, 2) skip-row planting and tie-ridging interact positively, and 3) productivity can be further increased by planting an early maturity crop in the skip-row area. Skipping a row after planting one or two rows resulted in similar yields compared with planting all rows. Maize yield was 43% greater with tie-ridge compared with flat tillage. There was no tillage by skip-row interaction. Productivity was increased by 20% when a relatively short season bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) was planted in the skipped rows of both maize and sorghum as cereal yield was not affected but bean added to productivity. Tie-ridging presents an opportunity for increasing maize yield. Skip-row planting for similar conditions is unlikely to increase productivity unless bean or another crop is planted in the skip-row area.
Key words: Dry bean, intercrop, Sahel, soil water deficits, late season stress, tie-ridging.
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