Journal of Food, Agriculture and Environment

Vol 8, Issue 1,2010
Online ISSN: 1459-0263
Print ISSN: 1459-0255

Effect of maize (Zea mays L.) – cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L.) intercropping on light distribution, soil temperature and soil moisture in arid environment


Ahmad Ghanbari, Mehdi Dahmardeh *, Barat Ali Siahsar, Mahmoud Ramroudi

Recieved Date: 2009-09-19, Accepted Date: 2010-01-03


Sole crops and intercrops of maize (Zea mays L.) and cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L.) were studied at eight planting ratios of maize: cowpea (100:100, 50:100, 100:50, 25:75, 75:25, 50:50, 0:100 and 100:0 ) and two harvest times (milky stage and doughy stage). This experiment was carried during two years (2007 and 2008) on Research Center, University of Zabol, Iran, to investigate the influence of cowpea on the microclimate of their intercrop and sole maize (SM) as control. Measurements of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), soil temperature (ST), soil moisture (SM) and crop yield were carried out to study the effects of intercropping on crop yield in a cowpea-maize intercropping system in Sistan at southeast of Iran. We found that intercropping increased the amount of absorption PAR compared to sole crop of maize. The highest amount of PAR was obtained at 100% cowpea + 100% maize with no significant difference to 100% cowpea + 50% maize. The lowest amount of PAR was obtained at 75% maize + 25% cowpea. Intercropping system had significant effects on soil temperature and soil moisture (P<0.01). The highest soil temperature was obtained at sole maize and the lowest temperature was at sole cowpea. Soil moisture was lowest at sole maize and highest at sole cowpea. LER (land equivalent ratio) values were greater in all intercropping systems with different planting ratios which indicated yield advantage of intercropping over sole cropping of maize. Results indicate that intercropping can increase light interception and increased shading in intercropping system compared to sole maize and reduce water evaporation and improve conservation of soil moisture. Based on high grain and suitable environmental condition, intercrop productivity compared to sole crop could be selected for improving the productivity of maize/cowpea mixture in the Southeast of Iran.


Intercropping system, cowpea-maize, land equivalent ratio (LER), photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), soil moisture, soil temperature

Journal: Journal of Food, Agriculture and Environment
Year: 2010
Volume: 8
Issue: 1
Category: Agriculture
Pages: 102-108

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