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Agronomy Journal Abstract - Intercropping

Nitrogen Yield and Land Use Efficiency in Annual Sole Crops and Intercrops


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 98 No. 4, p. 1030-1040
    Received: Sept 30, 2005

    * Corresponding author(s): umszumig@cc.umanitoba.ca
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  1. Anthony R. Szumigalski * and
  2. Rene C. Van Acker
  1. Department of Plant Science, Univ. of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, R3T 2N2, Canada


Nitrogen is the most limiting nutrient for crop production on the northern Great Plains of North America. This study was initiated to determine if N yield and land use efficiency for N could be improved by manipulating crop diversity using three annual crops (wheat, Triticum aestivum L.; canola, Brassica napus L.; and field pea, Pisum arvense L.) commonly grown on the Canadian Prairies. The study included all combinations of the crops (sole crops and intercrops) and compared their effects on soil N depletion, plant N concentration, plant N yield, and land equivalent ratios for dry matter and grain N yield (NLER) at two field sites in Manitoba, Canada. The pea sole crop treatment tended to result in higher fall soil nitrate (NO3 )–N concentrations compared to other treatments, indicating greater potential for post-season NO3 leaching after this treatment. There were often greater N concentrations in wheat, canola, and weeds when grown in association with field pea, suggesting that soil N could have been made available for nonlegume uptake through the NO3 –N sparing effect On average, most intercrop treatments resulted in more efficient land use for N compared to component sole crops, with overall mean intercrop NLER values ranging from 1.10 to 1.20. The wheat–canola–pea and canola–pea intercrop treatments tended to produce the highest and most consistent NLER values for crop dry matter and grain yield, respectively. The results of this study suggest that intercrops could be used for more efficient use of N on a per land area basis.

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