Relay-Intercropping of Sunnhemp and Cowpea into a Smallholder Maize System in Zimbabwe
- Peter Jeranyamaa,
- Oran B. Hestermanb,
- Stephen R. Waddingtonc and
- Richard R. Harwood *a
The rising real prices of purchased inputs is driving smallholder maize (Zea mays L.) production towards lower levels of inorganic fertilizer. Legume intercrops are a source of plant N that can be produced locally and offer a practical complement to inorganic fertilizers. Field experiments conducted on a loamy sand (Typic Kandiustalf) soil evaluated the impact of relay-intercropping two legume crops, cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L.) and sunnhemp (Crotolaria juncea L.) into smallholder maize in Zimbabwe. The objectives were to quantify: (i) biomass and N yield of intercropped legumes, (ii) the impact of the legumes on companion maize yield and N uptake, and (iii) the response of a subsequent maize crop to legumes. Dry matter yield ranged from 0.6 to 4.6 Mg ha−1 for cowpea and 0.9 to 2.9 Mg ha−1 for sunnhemp, over two years. At the most, cowpea and sunnhemp produced 154 and 82 kg N ha−1, respectively. Companion maize grain yields were not reduced when the legumes were relay-intercropped into maize fertilized at 0 to 60 kg N ha−1 However, maize yields were reduced 18 to 31% when maize + legume intercrops were fertilized at 120 kg N ha−1 In the subsequent year, maize grain yields were increased by 8 to 27% following maize + legume when no fertilizer N was applied, compared with maize following maize. Legumes reduced fertilizer needs of a subsequent maize crop by 36 kg N ha−1 Intercropped annual legumes and small amounts of inorganic fertilizer offers a strategy to meet the N needs on smallholder farms.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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