Effect of intercroping maize and soybean on soil fertility


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Effect of intercroping maize and soybean on soil fertility is a well-researched topic, it is to be used as a guide or framework for your Academic Research.


This study was carried out to determine the effect of intercropping maize with soybean on soil fertility. The study was conducted at two sites and evaluated three soybean varieties (hybrid SB19, GAZELLE – a local variety, hybrid TGX1990-5F) as sole crop and intercropped with maize, with maize pure stand as control. In the intercropped plots, one row of soybean was planted after every alternate row of maize. Data collected included soil nutrient status before planting and at harvest and nodulation in soybean. Variety TGX1990-5F had significantly more nodules followed by GAZELLE and SB19 was the last in sole crop and in intercrop at Embu during long rains and short rains (p ≤ 0.05).
Mwea produced more nodules compared to Embu. Intercropping maize and soybean had no effect on the number of nodules per plant both seasons. However, TGX1990-5F fixed a higher N of 0.39% compared to 0.29% for SB19 in sole crop respectively between sites for the first season after harvesting. TGX1990-5F showed higher N compared to GAZELLE in intercrops between sites for the second season after harvesting. Depending on the requirement of the plant nutrients, TGX1990-5F fixed moderate N for feeding plants. However, GAZELLE showed high Organic
Carbon, Potassium, and Phosphorus after harvesting than other varieties in both sites and rains seasons. Thus, variety TGX1990-5F can be recommended to smallscale farmers for intercropping with maize because it produced higher nodules and fixed higher N, hence reducing the cost for N fertilizers.


Low soil fertility is an important constraint in
agricultural production in Sub Saharan Africa. Legume
promise of being cheap alternative soil fertility owing
to their ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen (Phiri et
al., 2013). However, soil characteristics can be affected
positively or negatively by the growth conditions of crops.
Intercropping is an agricultural practice of cultivating
two or more crops in the same space at the same time
(Lithourgidis et al., 2011). The authors also define
intercropping as an old and commonly cropping
system used which targets to match efficiently crop
demands to the available growth resources and labor.
Yield and nutrients acquisition advantages are
frequently found in intercropping systems. However,
there are few published reports on soil fertility in
intercropping relative to monocropping (Wang et al.,
2014). The stability under intercropping can be
attributed to the partial restoration of diversity that is
missed under sole crops. According to this statement,
intercropping allows high insurance against crop
failure, notably in environments known for heavy
weather conditions like frost, flood, drought, and
overall provides hight financial stability for farmers
(Lithourgidis et al., 2011). Moreover, legumes enrich
soil by fixing the atmospheric nitrogen transforming
it and other mineral from an inorganic form to forms
that are avaible for uptake by crops (Li et al., 2012).
Biological fixation of atmospheric nitrogen can
replace nitrogen fertilization fully or partially. When
nitrogen fertilizer is limited, biological nitrogen
fixation is an important source of nitrogen in
intercropping systems (Fujita et al., 1992). In
addition, because inorganic fertilizers contributed to
ecosystem damage such as nitrate pollution, legumes
grown in intercropping are taken as an alternative
and sustainable path of bringing nitrogen in the soil
into little input cost and without damage (Fustec et
al., 2010). Furthermore, the green parts and roots of
the legume component can decompose and provide
nitrogen into the soil where it may be made available
to subsequent crops. Specially, under low soil
nitrogen conditions the advantages of legumes in an
intercrop are greater (Fabio et al., 2017). Legumes
broadly are more powerful in increasing the
productivity of succeeding cereals. The carryover of
nitrogen for succeeding crops may be 60-120kg in
berseem (Trifolum alexadrium), 75kg in cluster bean
(Cyamopsis tetragonolobus), 68kg in chickpea (Cicer
arietinum), 54-58 kg in groundnut (Arachis hypogea)
and 50-51kg in soybean (Glycina max)
(Bandyopadhyay et al., 2007). In addition, apart from
nitrogen, intercropping legume-cereal can allow
acquisition of other nutrients such as phosphorus,
potassium, sulphur and micro nutrients. Zhang et al.,
(2015) reported that, maize-soybean intercropping
reduced use of N fertilizer per unit of area and
enhanced relative biomass of intercropped maize, due
to promoteded photosynthetic efficiency of bodder
rows and N utilisation during symbiotic period. In
addition, Ali at al., (2015) found that, maize-soybean
intercropping increased soil organic carbon content,
CEC, N, Ca, Mg and P level after harvesting than sole
crops. Wang et al., (2014) reported that, globally, soil
organic matter did not differ significantly from
monocropping but did increase in maize-chickpea
intercropping in two years.


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