Effect of Sowing Date and NPK on the Forage Yield and Quality in the Crop Combination of Maize and Cowpea in Newer Alluvial Zone of West Bengal, India
Growing of more than one crop simultaneously by intercropping on the same land with definite row arrangement is considered effective in achieving maximum production from unit area per unit time. A field experiment was conducted on maize-cowpea intercropping at Grass Land Research Station, State Fodder Production Cum Seed Multiplication Farm, Haringhata, Nadia, West Bengal (23°N Latitude, 89°E Longitudes with elevation of 9.75 m above MSL) during rainy (kharif) season of 2008-2009 and 2009-2010. Maize (AT) and cowpea (E C 4216) were sown during 2008 and 2009 to estimate the effect of application of different NPK doses on forage yield with five treatment combinations including maize as a sole crop. The observation on the effect on quality of green forage yield and dry matter accumulation of different treatments indicated significant variability. Highest forage productions were observed in sole maize (62.1 ton) and (73.9 ton) during 2008 and 2009. Sole maize exhibited highest dry matter (551.08 and 558.65 g-2) production in 2008 and 2009, while, 2:1 with cowpea mixture produced (320.95 g-2) in 2008 and (322.88 g-2) in 2009. Moreover the digestible crude protein content in maize+cowpea (2:1) and cowpea+maize (2:1) exhibited 10.4 and 38.9% increase over control during 2008 while 10.3 and 38.4% in 2009 with N, P2O5, K2O (100:50:50) and (20:60:40), respectively. Therefore, it appears that forage quality and yield of maize with cowpea influenced the quality of forage production in maize based grass-legume intercropping system.
June 18, 2012; Accepted: March 09, 2013;
Published: June 03, 2013
In India, there is a great competition for land between food and fodder production.
So far, as the fixed geographical area of India is concerned, there is very
little scope for horizontal expansion but there is great scope for vertical
expansion through intensified cropping (Kanwar, 1972).
However, there has been an improvement in meat, milk and egg production along
with food production, keeping pace with the increasing growth of human population.
There has been enough awareness among the farmers, planners and scientists about
forage production. The forage crops are utilized to feed the domestic herbivores
who provide meat and dairy products and play an important role in total food
production. The maize crop (Zea mays), which is the third most important
cereal crop of world, is an important dual purpose crop used in human diet and
animal feed. Maize has the potential to supply large amounts of energy-rich
forage for animal diets and its fodder can safely be fed at all stages of growth
without any danger of oxalic acid, prussic acid as in case of sorghum
(Dahmardeh et al., 2009). Thus, forage maize
has become a major constituent of ruminant rations in recent years, where its
inclusion in dairy cow diets improves forage intake, increases animal performance
and reduces production costs (Anil et al., 2000;
Cusicanqui and Lauer, 1999).
Cereal-legume intercropping plays an important role in subsistence food production
in both developed and developing countries, especially in situations of limited
water resources (Tsubo et al., 2005). Yields
of intercropping are often higher than in sole cropping systems. The reasons
are mainly that resources such as water, light and nutrients can be utilized
more effectively than in the respective sole cropping systems (Li
et al., 2001). A study by the Winrock Foundation estimated that forages
provide more than 90% of the feed energy consumed by the herbivorous livestock
of the world. Even in the developed countries of the temperate zone forages
supply about 75% of the feed consumed by the beef cattle and 60% of the feed
consumed by dairy animals (Bula et al., 1977).
Forages are important in the worlds food resources as plant materials
containing high amounts of structured carbohydrates and their usefulness lies
in utilization by ruminant animals. Ruminant is unique in having the potential
for cycling forage materials, poor quality protein and non protein nitrogen
sources into the human food supply as meat, egg and milk. Thus, management of
forage crop production must be more regarded. Livestock nutritional resources
are pastures, green fodder and forage crops. Although, concentrates have been
used in the dairy cattle rations, forage crops perform an important role in
energy and protein supply for livestock. Therefore, the objective of this study
is to determine the effect of inorganic fertilizer (N,P,K) on forage yield and
quality in the combination crop of maize and cowpea under the agro climates
of West Bengal, India.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Materials: The field experiment was conducted during kharif seasons
of 2008 and 2009 where kharif crop was raised under rainfed condition to assess
the forage yields of maize and cowpea under various intercropping systems. The
experiment was conducted at Grass Land Research Station under State Fodder Production
Cum Seed Multiplication Farm, Haringhata, Nadia, West Bengal. The Farm is situated
at 23°N Latitude and 89°E
Longitude with an altitude of 9.75 m above mean sea level (MSL) and comes under
new alluvial zone West Bengal.
The soil of the experimental field was typical Gangetic alluvium (Entisol),
sandy-loam in texture with good drainage facility. The physicochemical properties
of the experimental soil have been summarized as coarse sand (6.67%), fine sand
(37.50%), silt (34.20%), clay (21.63%). Soil pH is 6.5, total N, organic carbon,
available P and available K was found to be 120.62, 0.59, 15.72, 152.87 kg ha-1,
respectively. The experiment was conducted in a sub-tropical humid climate with
mild short winter and long hot humid summer. The summer temperature is not too
high as well as the winter is not so intense. The seasons are broadly classified
as: (1) Summer season, (2) Rainy season and (3) Winter season. Total rainfall
during 2008 and 2009 was 1577.5 and 1200.4 mm. During the experimental period
maximum and minimum temperatures ranged between 25.9-36.9 and 11.6-26.5°C
during summer and winter in 2008 and 23.2-38.9°C and 10.0°-26.2°C
during summer and winter in 2009, respectively. Maximum and minimum relative
humidity ranged between 76.8-93.9 and 38.9-76.6% during 2008 and 2009.
Methods: The experiment was laid out in a randomized block design with
six treatments and four replications. Each experiment was repeated twice with
maize (cv. AT), cowpea (cv.EC 4216), during kharif (sowing date: 19.06 2008
and 28.06 2009) to study the forage quality and yield of maize intercropped
The experiments were conducted under natural field condition during kharif
seasons to study the effect of N, P2O5, K2O
and intercropping system on growth and yield of green maize and cowpea on various
competition function as well as economic analyses.
The treatments were T1 Maize sole with 100:50:50 (N: P2O5:
K2O in kg ha-1), T2 Cowpea sole 20:60:40 (N:
P2O5: K2O in kg ha-1), T3
Maize+Cowpea (2:1) 100:50:50 (N: P2O5: K2O
in kg ¯ha1), T4 Maize+Cowpea (1:2) 20:60:40 (N: P2O5:
K2O in kg ha-1) T5 Maize+Cowpea (mixed) 100:50:50
(N: P2O5: K2O in kg ha-1), T6
Cowpea+Maize (mixed) 20:60:40 (N: P2O5: K2O
in kg ha-1). Maize and cowpea were sown as sole and different intercropping
systems in kharif season. Maize was sown at 5 cm depth of soil and cowpea was
sown at 3 cm depth and Maize+Cowpea (mixed) in broadcasting method. In intercropping
of Maize and cowpea the row to row distance was 30 cm and the inter-row distance
was 10 cm.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Green forage production: The green forage yield of sole maize produced
significantly higher yield of 62.1 ton ha-1 in 2008 and 73.9 tonnes
ha-1 in 2009. with higher level of NPK (100:50:50) in both the years
of 2008 and 2009 (Table 1). Increment on forage yield in maize
by 60, 47 and 30% was observed compared with intercropping (1:2), mixed cropping
and intercropping (2:1), respectively. Besides the highest green forage production
was recorded in maize as a sole crop and in intercropping on 50 DAS. Cowpea,
while grown as a sole crop, produced significantly higher yield of 26.00 ton
ha-1 in 2008 and 30.00 ton ha-1 in 2009. The increased
forage production in cowpea by 22, 20, 34% in 2008 and 40, 53, 21% in 2009,
respectively was observed over intercropping (2:1), intercropping (1:2) and
||Effect of cropping systems on green forage production of maize
and cowpea across the year 2008 and 2009
|*NPK (100:50:50), **NPK (20:60:40)
Intercropping defined as the growing of two or more crop species simultaneously
in the same field during a growing season is important for the development of
sustainable food production systems particularly in cropping systems with limited
external inputs. This may be due to some of the potential benefits for intercropping
systems viz., high productivity and profitability. Improvement of soil fertility
through the addition of nitrogen by fixation and excretion from the component
legume, efficient use of resources, reducing damage caused by pests, diseases
and weeds and improvement of forage quality through the complementary effects
of two or more crops grown simultaneously on the same area of land (Bingol
et al., 2007; Lithourgidis et al., 2006;
Ross et al., 2004). Intercropping of maize and
cowpeas (Vigna unguiculata) is especially beneficial on nitrogen poor
soils (Vesterager et al., 2008). As cowpeas obtain
the majority of their nitrogen from the atmosphere, they do not compete with
maize for nitrogen in the soil.
The green as well as dry forage yields of maize+cowpea were significantly influenced
with the increasing levels of nitrogen supply upto harvest during kharif seasons.
This result was in agreement with the findings of several workers, all the intercropped
maize+cowpea plots produced higher green forage as well as dry forage yields
compared with their expected values. Trenbath (1979)
postulated that when soil factors were non-limiting, the mixture of plant species
of different heights having dissimilar canopy characteristics led to a advantage
in terms of daily net photosynthesis. Mixed cropping is the practice of growing
more than one crop in a field at a given time. Intercropping is the practice
of growing more than one crop simultaneously in alternating rows of the same
field (Beets, 1990). Intercropping is therefore a type
of mixed cropping. Intercropping with maize in sub arid regions is a way to
grow a staple crop while obtaining several benefits from the additional crop.
The yield advantage of intercropped maize+cowpea noted in this investigation
confirmed that postulation. The yield advantage of maize+cowpea in the intercropping
system probably accrued from the differences in the timing of utilization of
resources by the different crop species or from differences in exploitation
of resources from different soil layers, especially during peak vegetative and
reproductive stages of growth thus resulting from both temporal and spatial
complementarity. Similar observation was made by several workers (Trenbath,
1974; Snaydon and Harris, 1979; Willey,
1979; Chatterjee and Mandal, 1992).
Dry matter accumulation of maize: The height and growth of the plant
increased with the age of the plant in both the experimental years irrespective
of any of the treatment. The results indicated significant variation on dry
matter accumulation in maize for both sole as well as intercropped with cowpea
at varying fertilizer doses during 2008 and 2009 (Table 2).
The highest dry matter accumulation was recorded in maize as a sole crop (551.08,
558.65 g-2) followed by intercropping with cowpea (2:1) (340.9, 348.50
g-2) and mixed cropping and 1:2 ratio with NPK:20:60:40 (338.57,
381.42 g-2) during 2008 and 2009.
The DM accumulation at a particular stage of harvest depended on the supply
of nutrients, water as well as inter-species and intra-species competitions.
The forage yield of a species depends on the DM accumulation at any particular
stage of harvest. The competition between the component crops was most complex
when grasses used to be grown in mixtures with legumes. The relationship between
the yield of DM unit-1 area from a mixture of two forage species
and that of the constituent species was studied by several workers. The importance
of herbaceous forage legumes in increasing herbage production of grasses and
quality of feed produced has been recognized in Kenya.
Dry matter accumulation of cowpea: Inclusion of a legume in fodder grass
production would not only provide a nitrogen source to promote grass growth
but enhance the quality of feed. Legumes benefit grasses by contributing nitrogen
to the soil through atmospheric fixation, decay of dead root nodules and mineralization
of shredded leaves. The height and growth of cowpea in intercropping (2:1) with
(N, P2O5, K2O 20:60:40) maize exhibited significant
variations among the treatments on dry matter accumulation in both the years
2008 and 2009 (Table 3).
The highest dry matter accumulation was recorded in cowpea (320.95 and 322.88
g-2) as a intercrop (2:1) followed by sole cowpea (223.32 and 234.09
g-2) and in intercrop (1:2) with 100:50:50 (213.75 and 215.73 g-2)
during 2008 and 2009, respectively.
||Effect of nitrogen, phosphorus, potash and different system
of cropping on dry matter accumulation of maize during kharif seasons of
2008 and 2009
|DMA: Dry matter accumulation, M: Maize, C: Cowpea
||Effect of nitrogen, phosphorus, potash and different cropping
systems on dry matter accumulation of cowpea during kharif seasons of 2008
|DMA: Dry Matter Accumulation, M: Maize, C: Cowpea
|| Effect on crude protein content of maize-based cropping system
|M: Maize, C: Cowpea
Cereals are widely used in livestock nutrition due to their high dry matter
production and low cost and a number of cereals grown for forage e.g., maize,
wheat and oats, have become of increased importance in the rations of ruminants
animals (Leaver and Hill, 1992).
These types of cereal-based forages have the potential to supply large amount
of energy for animals. Legumes are good source of protein and can be used to
compensate cereal protein shortage (Gebrehiwot et al.,
1996). This may be due to some of the potential benefits for intercropping
systems such as high productivity and profitability (Yildirim
and Guvenc, 2005), improvement of soil fertility through the addition of
nitrogen by fixation and excretion from the component legume (Haggard-Nelson
et al., 2001) and improvement of forage quality through the complementary
effects of two or more crops grown simultaneously on the same area of land (Bingol
et al., 2007; Lithourgidis et al., 2006;
Ross et al., 2004).
Proximate composition of crude protein: Fodder is productive during
wet season and nutritive value is generally low and does not meet the animal
production requirements throughout the year. It contains low to moderate Crude
Protein (CP) content (6-12%) during the wet season, but declines to less than
5% during the dry period.
|| Effect on crude protein content of cowpea-based cropping
|M: Maize, C: Cowpea
Below a critical level of 6-8% CP in cattle diet, digestibility and voluntary
intake of forage are likely to be reduced (Humphreys, 1991).
The major challenge is to overcome the inadequate quantity and quality of these
cultivated fodders. Use of fertilizers to improve yield and commercial concentrates
as livestock supplements to enhance nutritive value is limited due to inability
of farmers to purchase them.
Forage dry matter can be divided into two fractions on the basis of nutritional
availability. The first fraction corresponds to the cellular contents and is
composed of lipids, soluble carbohydrates, most protein and other water-soluble
matter. This fraction is essentially available but its digestibility appears
incomplete because of the excretion of fecal non-cell-wall matter which is principally
of endogenous and bacterial origin.
The crude protein content of different treatments of maize based intercropping
indicated significant variability among the treatments (Table
4, 5). It has been reported that the digestibility of
protein increases exponentially as the concentration of crude protein in forages
increases (Santra et al., 2008). The maximum
crude protein content of maize+cowpea (1:2) are 10.39 and 10.48% during 2008
(Table 4), while cowpea+maize (2:1) indicated 11.05 and 9.97%
during 2009 (Table 5) suggests intercropping of these treatments
may have potential to increase forage digestibility.
It can be concluded that forage quality and yield of maize with cowpea which
is intercropped proved to be much effective by maximizing the production. Higher
green forage and dry forage yields are observed at all the intercropped plots.
Effect of N,P,K and different cropping system was pronounced by increased dry
matter accumulation of both maize and cowpea. Dry matter accumulations of maize
and cowpea as intercrop are found to tigger the advancement of crop growth and
are significantly influenced by increasing levels of nitrogen supply with systems
of cropping during kharif seasons. Sole as well as all intercropped maize significantly
responded up to 100:50:50 kg N: P2O5: K2O ha-1.
Considering the effect of crude protein on intercropping it is found that increase
of crude protein in forage increases the digestibility of protein in animals.
Therefore it can be inferred that maize-cowpea proves to be beneficial to overcome
the inadequacy of both fodder quantity and quality through intercropping during
rainy (kharif) season.
The authors acknowledge the facilities extended by the Grass Land Research
Station, State Fodder Production cum Seed Multiplication Farm, Haringhata, Nadia,
West Bengal for conducting field study.
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