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Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.)/maize (Zea mays L.) intercropping provides a feasible way to improve yield and economic incomes in farming and pastoral areas of northeast China.

Sun B, Peng Y, Yang H, Li Z, Gao Y, Wang C, Yan Y, Liu Y - PLoS ONE (2014)

Bottom Line: Given the growing challenges to food and eco-environmental security as well as sustainable development of animal husbandry in the farming and pastoral areas of northeast China, it is crucial to identify advantageous intercropping modes and some constraints limiting its popularization.When intercropped, maize intercropped with one row of alfalfa in wide rows was identified as the optimal strategy and the largely complementary ecological niches of alfalfa and maize were shown to account for the intercropping advantages, optimizing resource utilization and improving yield and economic incomes.These findings suggest that alfalfa/maize intercropping has obvious advantages over monoculture and is applicable to the farming and pastoral areas of northeast China.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Key Laboratory of Vegetation Ecology, Northeast Normal University, Changchun, China.

ABSTRACT
Given the growing challenges to food and eco-environmental security as well as sustainable development of animal husbandry in the farming and pastoral areas of northeast China, it is crucial to identify advantageous intercropping modes and some constraints limiting its popularization. In order to assess the performance of various intercropping modes of maize and alfalfa, a field experiment was conducted in a completely randomized block design with five treatments: maize monoculture in even rows, maize monoculture in alternating wide and narrow rows, alfalfa monoculture, maize intercropped with one row of alfalfa in wide rows and maize intercropped with two rows of alfalfa in wide rows. Results demonstrate that maize monoculture in alternating wide and narrow rows performed best for light transmission, grain yield and output value, compared to in even rows. When intercropped, maize intercropped with one row of alfalfa in wide rows was identified as the optimal strategy and the largely complementary ecological niches of alfalfa and maize were shown to account for the intercropping advantages, optimizing resource utilization and improving yield and economic incomes. These findings suggest that alfalfa/maize intercropping has obvious advantages over monoculture and is applicable to the farming and pastoral areas of northeast China.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Soil water content comparisons of different cropping patterns in 2011 (A) and 2013 (B).The inset figures show the average soil water content in different planting patterns during the vegetation period. SWC  =  soil water content. The other symbols are the same as for Figure 2.
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pone-0110556-g003: Soil water content comparisons of different cropping patterns in 2011 (A) and 2013 (B).The inset figures show the average soil water content in different planting patterns during the vegetation period. SWC  =  soil water content. The other symbols are the same as for Figure 2.

Mentions: SWC of all cropping patterns displayed a strong seasonal dynamic, with a peak in July and August (Figure 3). Irrespective of the growing stage, the difference of SWC between MME and MMW was not significant in both 2011 and 2013. Compared to monoculture, intercropping significantly reduced the SWC, and it was more evident in 2013 than 2011 (Figure 3). In 2011, with the exception of 24th July and 4th October, the SWC of IMA1 and IMA2 was significantly decreased compared to MMW, but with no significant difference compared with MA (both: P <0.0001) (Figure 3A); while in 2013, the SWC of IMA1 and IMA2 was significantly lower than that of MMW as well as MA except for 12th July (all: P <0.0001) (Figure 3B). The differences between treatments were also reflected by seasonal average SWC: the values of IMA1 and IMA2 were significantly lower than that of MMW and MME in both 2011 and 2013, while there was no significant difference between IMA1 and IMA2 in both years. For the MA treatment, the seasonal average SWC was significantly lower than that of MMW and MME in 2011, while there was no significant difference among treatments MMW, MME and MA in 2013 (Figure 3 3A inset and 3B inset).


Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.)/maize (Zea mays L.) intercropping provides a feasible way to improve yield and economic incomes in farming and pastoral areas of northeast China.

Sun B, Peng Y, Yang H, Li Z, Gao Y, Wang C, Yan Y, Liu Y - PLoS ONE (2014)

Soil water content comparisons of different cropping patterns in 2011 (A) and 2013 (B).The inset figures show the average soil water content in different planting patterns during the vegetation period. SWC  =  soil water content. The other symbols are the same as for Figure 2.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4199727&req=5

pone-0110556-g003: Soil water content comparisons of different cropping patterns in 2011 (A) and 2013 (B).The inset figures show the average soil water content in different planting patterns during the vegetation period. SWC  =  soil water content. The other symbols are the same as for Figure 2.
Mentions: SWC of all cropping patterns displayed a strong seasonal dynamic, with a peak in July and August (Figure 3). Irrespective of the growing stage, the difference of SWC between MME and MMW was not significant in both 2011 and 2013. Compared to monoculture, intercropping significantly reduced the SWC, and it was more evident in 2013 than 2011 (Figure 3). In 2011, with the exception of 24th July and 4th October, the SWC of IMA1 and IMA2 was significantly decreased compared to MMW, but with no significant difference compared with MA (both: P <0.0001) (Figure 3A); while in 2013, the SWC of IMA1 and IMA2 was significantly lower than that of MMW as well as MA except for 12th July (all: P <0.0001) (Figure 3B). The differences between treatments were also reflected by seasonal average SWC: the values of IMA1 and IMA2 were significantly lower than that of MMW and MME in both 2011 and 2013, while there was no significant difference between IMA1 and IMA2 in both years. For the MA treatment, the seasonal average SWC was significantly lower than that of MMW and MME in 2011, while there was no significant difference among treatments MMW, MME and MA in 2013 (Figure 3 3A inset and 3B inset).

Bottom Line: Given the growing challenges to food and eco-environmental security as well as sustainable development of animal husbandry in the farming and pastoral areas of northeast China, it is crucial to identify advantageous intercropping modes and some constraints limiting its popularization.When intercropped, maize intercropped with one row of alfalfa in wide rows was identified as the optimal strategy and the largely complementary ecological niches of alfalfa and maize were shown to account for the intercropping advantages, optimizing resource utilization and improving yield and economic incomes.These findings suggest that alfalfa/maize intercropping has obvious advantages over monoculture and is applicable to the farming and pastoral areas of northeast China.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Key Laboratory of Vegetation Ecology, Northeast Normal University, Changchun, China.

ABSTRACT
Given the growing challenges to food and eco-environmental security as well as sustainable development of animal husbandry in the farming and pastoral areas of northeast China, it is crucial to identify advantageous intercropping modes and some constraints limiting its popularization. In order to assess the performance of various intercropping modes of maize and alfalfa, a field experiment was conducted in a completely randomized block design with five treatments: maize monoculture in even rows, maize monoculture in alternating wide and narrow rows, alfalfa monoculture, maize intercropped with one row of alfalfa in wide rows and maize intercropped with two rows of alfalfa in wide rows. Results demonstrate that maize monoculture in alternating wide and narrow rows performed best for light transmission, grain yield and output value, compared to in even rows. When intercropped, maize intercropped with one row of alfalfa in wide rows was identified as the optimal strategy and the largely complementary ecological niches of alfalfa and maize were shown to account for the intercropping advantages, optimizing resource utilization and improving yield and economic incomes. These findings suggest that alfalfa/maize intercropping has obvious advantages over monoculture and is applicable to the farming and pastoral areas of northeast China.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus