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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MINIMIZING THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF LIVESTOCK MANURES USING INTEGRATED MANAGEMENT REGIMENS

Location: Renewable Energy and Manure Management Research

Title: Improving resource use efficiency of forage production system by intercropping systems

Authors
item Angadi, Sangu -
item Begna, Sultan -
item Marsalis, Mark -
item Cole, Noel
item Gowda, Prasanna
item Lauriault, Leonard -
item Hagevoort, Robert -

Submitted to: Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: July 30, 2009
Publication Date: August 26, 2009
Citation: Angadi, S., Begna, S., Marsalis, M., Cole, N.A., Gowda, P., Lauriault, L., Hagevoort, R. 2009. Improving resource use efficiency of forage production system by intercropping systems. 2009 Farming Systems Design Symposium, August 23-26, 2009, Monterey, California. 2 pp. 2009 CDROM.

Interpretive Summary: Sustainability of agriculture is a major concern in the Southern High Plains where demand for good quality forages by the beef cattle feeding and dairy industries and declining ground water resources threaten the future of irrigated crop production. Forage sorghums use water more efficiently than corn and thus are a better alternative for the region. Typically sorghum is grown in rows approximately 75 cm apart; the area between the rows is not occupied by the crop for the major part of growth. Research has indicated that forage productivity of some systems can be increased by mixing of diverse plant species. Legumes are high in protein, have wide adaptability, and possess the unique ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen. A legume crop that can tolerate lower light intensity or that can climb on the main sorghum crop to receive its share of radiation will be of great benefit. Thus, we conducted a field study to better understand solar radiation use by irrigated forage sorghum-legume based intercropping systems. The study was conducted at the New Mexico State University Agricultural Science Center at CLovis, New Mexico, during summer of 2008. Forage sorghum was planted in 75 cm rows. Two legumes [Lablab vulgaris and Pole bean (Phaseolus vulgaris)] were planted halfway between sorghum rows. A surface drip irrigation system was used. Compared to forage sorghum alone, intercropping systems developed leaf area faster and intercepted more solar radiation in the beginning of the season; however, the edvantage gradually decreased and by 60 days after planting there was no difference. Intercropping increased total forage production by 15%. Lablab appeared to be better suited for the intercropping system than pole bean. Results may help in designing intercropping systems that improve water and fertilizer use efficiencies and forage production in the Southern Great Plains.

Technical Abstract: Sustainability of agriculture is a major concern in the Southern High Plains where demand for good quality forages by the beef cattle feeding and dairy industries and declining ground water resources are threatening the future of irrigated crop production. The greater water use efficiency of forage sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) compared to corn (Zea mays L.), makes it a better alternative for the region. Typically sorghum is grown at row spacings wider than 75 cm, in which the inter-row space is not occupied by the crop for the major part of vegetative growth. Research has indicated that biomass productivity of forage systems can be increased by mixing of diverse species. Legumes are high in protein, have wide adaptability, and possess the unique ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen. A legume crop that can tolerate lower light intensity or that can climb on the main sorghum crop to receive its share of radiation will be of great benefit. Thus, the objective of this field study was to understand radiation use pattern and radiation use efficiency of forage sorghum-legume based intercropping systems compared to a mono-crop of forage sorghum. A field trial was conducted at the New Mexico State University Agricultural Science Center at Clovis, NM during summer of 2008. Forage sorghum was planted at 75 cm row spacing. Two legumes [Lablab vulgaris Savi cv. Rongai and Pole bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) cv. Genuine cornfield], were planted halfway between sorghum rows. A surface drip irrigation system was used to maintain crops in a relatively water-stress-free condition. Biomass accumulation, leaf area index, solar radiation interception, and crop photosynthesis were measured. Intercropping systems developed leaf area faster and intercepted solar radiation more in the beginning of the season than sorghum only. The advantage gradually decreased and by 60 days after planting there was no difference. Intercropping increased total biomass production by 15%. Lablab was more indeterminate and had longer duration than the pole bean used, suggesting it may be better suited for the intercropping systems. Results may help in designing intercropping systems that increase resource use efficiencies and forage productivity.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
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