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Studies on mixed cultivation of tropical legumes and grasses 8. growth and nitrogen fixation in the cowpea corn inter cropping as affected by plant competition for light and for soil nutrients



Studies on mixed cultivation of tropical legumes and grasses 8. growth and nitrogen fixation in the cowpea corn inter cropping as affected by plant competition for light and for soil nutrients



Grassland Science 25(1): 34-42



A field experiment was conducted in Fukuoka, Japan for evaluating effects of plant top and root competition on DM [dry matter] yield, N yield and N2-fixation. There were 7 treatments replicated 3 times: 3 monocultures of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata, TVu 4557), tall corn (Zea mays, Koh-1), and dwarf corn (TX-74) and 4 cowpea/corn inter-croppings of 2 levels of plant top competition .times. 2 levels of plant root competition. Inter-cropping cowpea with tall corn or with dwarf corn facilitated 2 levels of plant top competition. Burying wooden partitions in between rows of corn and cowpea or at right angle with these rows facilitated 2 levels of plant root competition. When compared with other coppings, the tall corn/cowpea inter-cropping created a favorable canopy structure for increasing DM yield, showing even vertical distribution of leaves throughout the canopy. Dry matter yield was higher in the tall corn-cowpea intercropping, followed by the dwarf/cowpea inter-cropping, showing relative yields totals of 132 and 124, respectively. Root competition created favorable effects on increasing DM production in the tall corn/cowpea but not in the dwarf corn/cowpea intercropping. Nodule formation and N2-fixation changed significantly with combinations of cowpea and corn. Among the factors comprising N2-fixation (C2H2 reduction), nodule number and nodule weight decreased as light environments on cowpea worsened while specific nodule activity increased. N2-fixation decreased with root competition in the tall corn/cowpea but not in the dwarf corn/cowpea inter-cropping. N yield in the inter-croppings was higher than in the corn monocultures and lower than in the cowpea monocultures showing lower relative yield totals. Relative yield totals of N were reduced with root competition. Plant top competition for light is more significant in determining DM yield than competition for soil nutrients. A suggestion was made for the ideal types which maximize productivity in the corn/cowpea inter-cropping, viz., tall stem with leaves on the top layer for corn and non-climbing type for cowpea.

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