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Individual study: Mixed-species legume fallows affect faunal abundance and richness and N cycling compared to single species in maize-fallow rotations

Published source details

Sileshi G., Mafongoya P., Chintu R. & Akinnifesi F. (2008) Mixed-species legume fallows affect faunal abundance and richness and N cycling compared to single species in maize-fallow rotations. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 40, 3065-3075


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Use crop rotation Soil Fertility

A controlled, randomized, replicated study in 1999-2007 on sandy-clay soil in Zambia (Sileshi et al. 2008) found higher soil animal diversity and improved maize Zea mays yield in crop rotations including legumes (3.7 orders and 4 t/ha, respectively) compared to a continuously cropped maize control (2.9 orders and 2.7 t/ha). There were no differences in overall soil animal abundance and crop yield between single- and two-species legume treatments, but the abundance of earthworms and millipedes were higher in pure stands of pigeon pea Cajanus cajan (4.3 earthworms, 2.4 millipedes) and earthworms in sesbania Sesbania sesban (1 earthworm), compared to continuously-cropped maize (<1 earthworm, <0.5 millipedes per plot). Two fallow and cropping cycles and one control treatment (continuous maize with two applications of 200 kg/ha NPK fertilizer) were established on 10 × 10 m plots. The treatments in the two cropping cycles were: pure stands of sesbania, tephrosia Tephrosia vogelii, or pigeon pea; 1:1 mixtures of sesbania/pigeon pea, and sesbania/tephrosia. The fallow consisted of native legume and grass species. During the cropping phase, fertilizer was only applied to continuously cropped maize. There were three replicates.