Forage Quality of Cow Pea (Vigna sinensis) Intercropped with Corn (Zea mays) as Affected by Nutrient Uptake and Light Interception
Keywords:competitive ratio, crude protein, intercropping, resource consumption
An experiment was carried out in 2003 to investigate the effect of intercropping on light interception, nutrient uptake and forage quality of cow pea. A randomized complete block design (RCB) with three replications was employed to compare the treatments, including cow pea sole crop (Cp), corn sole crop (C), alternate-row intercropping (M1), within-row intercropping (M2) and mixed intercropping (M3). The intercrop composition was based on replacement design, where one corn was replaced by three cow pea plants. The results indicated that PAR (photosyntheticaly active radiation) interception and nutrient uptake were improved by intercropping. Cow pea was more competitive than corn in absorbing divalent cations (Ca and Mg) for its high root cation exchange capacity. However, corn was more competitive than cow pea for phosphorus and potassium. Forage quality of cow pea in terms of crude protein was decreased in intercropping compared to its sole crop. It was related to reduction of biological nitrogen fixation induced by low PAR and phosphorus availability for cow pea in intercropping.
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