Border-row proportion determines strength of interspecific interactions and crop yields in maize/peanut strip intercropping

Ruonan Wang, Zhanxiang Sun, Lizhen Zhang*, Ning Yang, Liangshan Feng, Wei Bai, Dongsheng Zhang, Qi Wang, Jochem B. Evers, Yang Liu, Jianhong Ren, Yue Zhang, Wopke van der Werf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Strip intercropping enables increases in yields and ecological services in agriculture. Crop yields of species grown in strip intercropping are often related to the yield responses (increases or decreases) in the outer rows of the strips: the border rows. This suggests that the yield response can be modulated by changing the proportion of border rows in the field. Here we studied the relationship between component species yields and proportion of border rows in strip intercrops of maize (Zea mays L.) and peanut (Arachis hypogaea Linn.). We tested four different intercrops with equal proportions of maize and peanut but a different number of rows per strip: M2P2 (2 rows maize intercropped with 2 rows peanut), M4P4, M6P6, M8P8, and sole maize (SM) and sole peanut (SP). The border-row proportions were 1, 0.5, 0.33 and 0.25 for the intercropping M2P2 to M8P8, respectively, and 0 for the pure stands. Yield responded positively to the proportion of border rows for maize, but negatively for peanut, confirming the dominance of maize in this system. Kernel number per ear of maize and pod number per plant of peanut were the main yield components that responded to the border-row proportion. Across three years, relative maize yield (yield in intercropping divided by yield in monoculture), varied from 0.76 in M2P2 to 0.56 in M8P8, while relative peanut yield varied from 0.19 in M2P2 to 0.39 in M8P8. Relative yield total was not significantly different from one in any of the mixtures. Yield of intercropped maize in border rows was 48% higher than in inner rows and the sole crop, in part due to a significantly higher kernel number per ear (13%). Yield of intercropped peanut in border rows was on average 29% lower than in inner rows and 48% lower than in sole peanut. Yield responses in border rows were independent from the border-row proportion. The results show that relative crop yields responded strongly to variation in border-row proportion resulting from variation in strip width from 1 to 4 m. Strip width thus provides a mechanism to control the strength of interspecific plant interactions and relative yields in strip intercropping.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107819
JournalField Crops Research
Volume253
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2020

Keywords

  • border-row effect
  • relative yield total
  • row configuration
  • strip cropping
  • yield components

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