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The intercropping cowpea-maize improves soil phosphorus availability and maize yields in an alkaline soil
- Latati, M., Blavet, D., Alkama, N., Laoufi, H., Drevon, J. J., Gérard, F., Pansu, M., Ounane, S. M.
- Plant and soil 2014 v.385 no.1-2 pp. 181-191
- Vigna unguiculata, Zea mays, acidification, alkaline soils, biomass, continuous cropping, corn, cowpeas, fallow, field experimentation, grain yield, intercropping, pH, phosphorus, rhizosphere, soil respiration, symbiosis, Algeria
- AIM: This study assessed whether growing cowpea can increase phosphorus (P) availability in the rhizosphere and improve the yield of legume-cereal systems. In alkaline Mediterranean soils with P deficiency, it is assumed that legumes increase inorganic P availability. METHODS: A field experiment was conducted at the Staoueli experimental station, in Algiers province, Algeria, to compare the growth, grain yield, P availability, and P uptake by plants with sole-cropped cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. cv. Moh Ouali) and maize (Zea mays L. cv. ILT), intercropped cowpea-maize, and fallow. RESULTS: P availability in the rhizosphere was increased in both sole cropping and intercropping systems compared with fallow. It was highest in intercropping. The increase in P availability was associated with (i) significant pH changes of the rhizosphere of cowpea in sole cropping and intercropping systems, with the rhizosphere acidification significantly higher in intercropping (−0.73 units) than in sole cropping (−0.42 units); (ii) significant increase in the rhizosphere pH of intercropped maize (+0.49 units) compared to fallow; (iii) increased soil respiration (C-CO₂from microbial and root activity) in intercropping compared with sole cropping and fallow; and (iv) higher efficiency in utilization of the rhizobial symbiosis in intercropping than in sole-cropped cowpea. CONCLUSION: With cowpea-maize intercropping, cowpea increased the P uptake, by increasing the P availability by rhizosphere pH changes in an alkaline soil. Overall, this study showed that intercropping cowpea improved the plant biomass and grain yield of maize in this soil.