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Effects of intercropping on production performance of maize and cowpea in Botswana

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  • Save International Journal of A griculture and Forestry 2012, 2(6): 307-310 DOI: 10.5923/j.ijaf.20120206.07 Effects of Intercropping on the Performance of Maize and Cowpeas in Botswana Gabatshele. M. Legwaila*, Teko. K. Marokane, Witness Mojeremane Department of Crop Science and Production, Botswana College of A griculture, Private Bag, 0027, Gaborone, Botswana Abstract A field experiment was conducted at Botswana College of Agriculture garden to investigate the effects intercropping maize and cowpeas on the performance of maize and co wpeas. The treat ments were sole maize crop, sole cowpea crop, intercrop 1 (spacing of 40 cm between of maize and cowpea) and intercrop 2 (spacing of 30 cm between maize and cowpea served as treatments. The experiment was monitored fro m November to March. The results show that only maize dry matter was significantly reduced by intercropping. Intercropping reduced the number cowpea flowers per p lant but had no significant effect in the number of seeds per pod and weight of seeds. Cowpea dry matter weight was significantly reduced by intercropping. Planting pattern significantly affected the number of cowpea flowers, nu mber o f pods and dry matter weight. Appropriate spacing/ planting pattern should be considered when intercropping cereal and legume. Keywords Intercropping, Cowpeas Maize Performance, Yield 1. Introduction Farmers practice different cropping systems to increase productivity and sustainability[1]. Intercropping is the simu ltaneous growing of two or more crops in the same field [2] and is a cropping system that has long been used for a long-time in tropical areas. It increases total productivity per unit area through maximu m utilization of land, labour and growth resources[3, 4, 5]. Yields of intercropping are often higher than in sole cropping systems[6] main ly due to resources such as water, light and nutrients that can be utilised more effectively than in sole cropping systems [7]. Cereal-legu me intercropping plays an important role in subsistence food production in both developed and developing countries, especially in situations of limited water resources [8]. Intercropping of cereal and legu me crops helps maintain and imp rove soil fert ility [9] and p lays an important role in subsistence food production in developing countries[8] because farmers cannot afford inorganic fert ilizers. . Legu mes fix at mospheric nitrogen, which may be utilized by the host plant or may be excreted fro m the nodules into the soil and be used by other plants growing nearby[10]. Legu mes can also transfer fixed N to intercropped cereals during their joint growing period and this N is an important resource for the cereals[11]. The use o f int ercropp ing by s mallho lder farmers is a common practice[12] that dates back to ancient time[13] in the tropics[14] and rain-fed areas world wide[15]. Declining crop yields in the smallholder farmers in dryland cropping systems in Botswana present the need to develop a more sustainable cropping system. Due to high costs of inorganic fertilizers, the majo rity of smallholder farmers in Botswana grow maize and sorghum in soils deficient in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. To maintain productivity in smallholder cropping systems in southern Africa, the use of inorganic fert ilizers in co mb ination with available organic fert ilizers such as kraal manure, tree litter, herbaceous legume plant residues and compost is required [16]. Intercropping legumes with non-legume in Botswana can be a principal means of intensifying crop production both spatially and temporally to improve crop yields for smallholder farmers. Legume intercrops are a potential source of plant nutrients that compliment/supplement inorganic fert ilizers[17]. Legu me intercrops have several socioeconomic[18], and biologica l and ecological[19, 20, 21, 22, 23] advantages compared to sole cropping for small-holder farmers [24]. In addition, certain legumes crops provide food to humans and livestock[17]. There are several intercrop arrangements which may include row intercropping worldwide. The objective of the present study was to determine the effect o f intercropping and planting patterns on the performance of maize and cowpeas in semi-arid Botswana. * Corresponding author: (Gabatshel e. M. Legwaila) Published online at Copyright © 2012 Scientific & Academic Publishing. All Rights Reserved 2. Materials and Methods The field study was conducted during the 2006/2007 308 Gabatshele. M . Legwaila et al.: Effects of Intercropping on the Performance of M aize and Cowpeas in Botswana cropping season (November to April) at Botswana College of Agricu lture (BCA) garden. BCA is located at Sebele (Latitude: 24̊ 34’S; Longitude: 25̊ 54’E: Alt itude: 994m) approximately 10 km north of the Gaborone City along the north to south highway. The study site is characterised by a semi-arid climate with mean annual rainfall of 538mm. Most of the rain fall in the summer starting fro m late October and continues to March/April. The study area is characterised by shallow sandy loam soils and Acacia trees. Maize (Zea mays L.) and Tswana cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp) are t wo crops used in the present study. The experiment had four t reat ments, sole maize crop, sole cowpea crop, intercrop 1 (spacing of 40 cm between rows of maize and cowpeas) and intercrop 2 (spacing of 30cm between rows of maize and cowpeas). The experimental design used was a randomized co mp lete block design and the experimental plots were replicated four times. The experimental fie ld was prepared by ploughing the soil to a depth of 30 cm and harrowing. The size of the plot per treatment was 3 × 3 (9 m²) with 50 cm paths separating adjacent plots and blocks. In the sole maize crop treat ment, three maize seeds were sown per hole at a depth of 5cm and later thinned to one seedling/hole at a spacing of 90 × 30 c m. In the sole cowpea crop treat ment, t wo seeds were sown per hill at depth of 5 cm and later thinned to one at 30×15 cm spacing. In the intercrop 1 treatment, there were four rows of maize planted at spacing of 80×40 cm and between every two rows; a ro w of cowpea was placed at 40 cm fro m maize rows and 20 cm between plants. In the intercrop 2 treat ment, five ro ws of cowpeas were planted at a spacing of 60×30 c m and a row of maize p laced at a spacing of 30 cm fro m cowpeas and 20 cm between plants. Watering was also done when crops showed water stress and weeding was done manually when necessary. No fertiliser or insecticide application was made. Specific maize and cowpea plants were tagged for measurements and harvested at end of the experiment to determine dry matter (DM ) weight. The following parameters were assessed: number of flowers, nu mber of pods, number o f cobs per p lant, weight of 100 seeds and DM we ight at the end the e xperiment. The DM weight or bio mass was determined by weighing after oven drying the plant material at 70℃ for 3 days. All the data collected were statistically analysed using the analysis of variance (ANOVA) p rocedure using SAS[25] and Duncan Multiple Range Test was used to separate the means. 3. Results and Discussion The results on the effect o f intercropping on measured maize parameters are shown in Table 1. The sole crop produced significantly mo re DM weight than maize intercropped with co wpeas. The maize DM weight was not affected by planting patterns used in the two intercropping systems. Co mpetition among mixtures is thought to be a major factor affecting yie ld as compared with sole cropping of cereals[26]. The high maize DM weight observed in the sole maize crop could be attributed to high plant density and lack of co mpetition for resources such as light, nutrients and water. Factors that affect competition in intercropping systems were not determined in the present study. However, differences in the depth of roots, lateral root spread and root densities are some of the factors that affect competition between the co mponent crops in an intercropping system for nutrients[27]. Previous studies reported yield reduction in co wpea and maize in maize-co wpea intercrops [28] due lower plant densities. Table 1. Effect of intercropping on the number maize cobs per plant, weight of 100 seeds and dry matter weight Treatment Sole maize (control) Intercrop 1 Intercrop 2 SEM CV LSD No of cobs plant−1 2.00a 1.66a 1.66a 0.30 29.64 1.195 Weight of 100 seeds (g) 24.33a 23.00a 21.00a 1.30 9.877 5.124 DM (g) 197.33a 169.33b 165.66b 6.55 6.494 26.117 Mean values followed by the same letter are not significantly different from each other (P>0.05) Table 2. Effect of intercropping on flowers, number of pods per plant, number of seeds per pod, weight of 100 seeds and DM of cowpea Treatment Sole cowpea Intercrop 1 Intercrop 2 SEM CV LSD No of flowers plant /plant 28.25a 24.00b 19.75c 0.73 6.093 2.53 No of pods plant −1 24.75a 23.25a 18.50b 1.27 11.48 4.40 No of seeds/pods 14.00a 13.00b 13.75a 0.14 2.12 0.449 Wt of 100 seeds (g) 15.75a 16.00a 15.75a 0.43 5.47 1.498 DM (g) 62.50a 73.50b 51.25c 2.47 7.92 8.55 Mean values followed by the same letter are not significantly different (P>0.05) International Journal of A griculture and Forestry 2012, 2(6): 307-310 309 The results of the present study show that the number of maize p lant cobs and weight of seeds were not affected by intercropping systems. Similarly there was no significant difference in the two variables between planting patterns (intercrop 1 and 2). Th is is consistent with results of a study conducted by Agricultural Research Division [29] which reported that a sorghum-co wpea intercrops did not reduce or increase sorghum yield. Our results are also in agreement with Haizel [30], who wo rked with maize-cowpea, and Andrews[31] and Rees[32], who worked with sorghum-cow pea and Karikari[33] who worked with maize -bambara groundnut and sorghum-bambara g roundnut intercrop s ys tems . The results of different parameters of cowpea in intercrops with maize are shown in Table 2. So le co wpea produced significantly mo re flowers per plant than intercropped with maize. Maize is usually taller with a faster gro wing or mo re e xtensive root system; particularly a la rger mass of fine roots and is co mpetitive for soil nit rogen [34, 35].The maize plants in the intercrops in the present study could have shadowed cowpeas reducing the amount of light required to stimulate flower production. These results also showed that the number of flo wers per plant was significantly h igh in intercrop 2 than intercrop 1 probably due to differences in plant density between the two planting patterns. There was no significant d ifference in the nu mber of cowpea pods between sole cowpea crop and intercrop 1 (wider cowpea spacing). Cowpea plants in both the sole cowpea crop and intercrop 1 produced more pods that the intercrop 2. The narrow spacing in intercrop 2 resulted in high cowpea plant density and hence competit ion for growth resources. This is consistent with the findings of Ofori and Stern[18] and Alhaji [36] who observed reduction in cowpea yield due to high maize density in the intercropping system. Studies conducted by Agricultural Research Division[29] also reported that intercropping reduced the yield of cowpea. The results on the effect of intercropping on flowers, number o f pods per plant, number of seeds per pod, weight of 100 seeds and DM of cowpea are shown Table 2 There was no significant difference in the number of seeds per pod between the sole cowpea and intercropping 2. Intercrop 1 significantly reduced the number of cowpea seeds per pod when compared to the sole crop and intercrop 2. Higher grain y ield under sole cowpea compared to intercropping were reported by Chemeda [24]. Co mpetition for water, nutrients and shading are probably the two factors that reduced cowpea yield under high numbers of maize plants in Intercrop 1[37]. There were no significant differences in the weight of cowpea seeds between treatments. This is in agreement with Chakma et al. [38] who observed no significant difference in weight of 1000 seed weight in a popcorn-mungbean/cowpea intercropping system[39] found that mungbean intercropped with cotton produced seeds similar to those in sole crop of mungbean which is consistent with our findings. Sole cowpea crop produced significantly lower DM weight than intercrop 1. The sole cowpea crop grew and matured faster because of lack of co mpetition for resources such as light, water and nutrients. This caused sole cowpea plants to lose some leaves before harvesting for DM weight analysis. The loss of some leaves in the field could have lowered DM weight in the sole cowpea crop. It was observed that intercropped cowpeas matured while still hold ing leaves and this could be because shading by maize p revented them fro m dry ing. Intercrop 1 gave more DM weight than sole been and intercrop 2. At the end of the study, cowpeas in the intercrop 1 where still hold ing their leaves. Co wpeas in the intercrop 2 produced the least DM probably due to competition fo r resources due to high plant density. 4. Conclusions The majority of s mallholder farmers in Botswana practice intercropping between cereal crops and legumes, however on the basis of these findings; it is clear that sole cropping performed better than all intercrops. There are benefits derived fro m intercropping systems such nitrogen fixation by legume which benefits cereal crops and assurance for some crops surviving in the event that there are calamities like drought, pests and diseases. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Teko K. Maro kane was supported by the Ministry of Education Scholarship. We thank Botswana College of Agriculture for providing the study site and a laboratory for carrying out some analysis REFERENCES [1] H. Hauggaard-Nieson, P. Ambus and E. S. Jensen, 2001. Temporal and spatial distribution of roots and competition for nitrogen in pea-barley intercrops. A field studies employing 23P techniques. 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