Productivity of field pea and lentil with cereal and brassica intercrops

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Abstract

Field pea (Pisum sativum L.) and lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.) have potential as grain-producing legumes in organic rotations, but their yield is limited by weed competition. Intercropping can control weeds and increase total grain productivity per land area compared to sole cropping. A field experiment was conducted to investigate the effect of intercropping on field pea and lentil yields. Intercrop treatments were spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), oat (Avena sativa L.), and radish (Raphanus sativus L.), which were harvested for grain; and winter rye (Secale cereale L.) and rapid-cycling brassica (Brassica campestris L.), which were not harvested. Intercropped lentil yields and total (lentil plus intercrop) yields were lower than or equal to weeded and unweeded sole cropped lentils in 5 of 6 site-years. Intercropped pea yields and total (pea plus intercrop) yields were lower than or equal to weeded and unweeded sole cropped pea in all site-years. Unharvested intercrops showed variable effectiveness at suppressing weeds. In lentil, winter rye intercropping reduced weed biomass compared to the unweeded control in 4 site-years, and rapid-cycling brassica reduced weed biomass in 2 site-years. In pea, winter rye, and rapid-cycling brassica treatments reduced weed biomass in all site-years. However, reductions in weed biomass were not associated with increases in grain yield. Estimated net returns to intercropping were variable, but generally similar for sole crops and intercrops on average. We did not observe consistent agronomic or economic advantages to the use of intercrops with field pea and lentil in the Minnesota environments studied.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-256
Number of pages8
JournalAgronomy Journal
Volume107
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 13 2015

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