Farm Table says:
Maize, a versatile cereal, in terms of consumption, is considered one of Brazil’s most important agricultural products. Organic maize is used in the meat supply chain since it is a component of the feed given to organically farmed poultry and pigs.
No-tillage farming has become a popular practice in Brazil, with results such as:
• increasing the amount of soil organic matter
• reducing erosion
• improving the soil chemical
• physical and biological attributes
• enhancing fertility
• showing good results in the recovery of soil qualitative characteristics
• increasing its production capacity
This study aimed at evaluating the agronomic traits and yield of maize, after using different off-season cover crops under two organic no-tillage systems.
Methods and Results
A randomized block design, with a 7 x 2 factorial scheme, being 7 treatments (weeds; black oat monoculture; sunflower; white lupin intercropped with black oat in rows; white lupin intercropped with black oat by broadcasting; white lupin monoculture; and no cover crop), 2 cropping systems (maize alone and intercropped with jack bean), and 4 replications was used. The agronomic traits evaluated were plant height, first-year insertion height, stem diameter, prolificacy, 1,000-grain weight, grain yield and nitrogen released at 60 days of mulch decomposition. White lupin straw, monoculture and intercropped with black oat, release a higher amount of N during the decomposition process and, consequently, these treatments increase maize yield. Intercropping with jack bean within the same row as maize reduces its yield potential under an organic no-tillage system.
- Sunflower, white lupin intercropped with black oat (in rows and by broadcasting) and white lupin are efficient at producing the highest amount of mulch for organic no-tillage farming;
- Mulch from the white lupin treatment, white lupin intercropped with black oat (in rows and by broadcasting) and sunflower prompts a greater N release during the decomposition of the crop residues for 60 days;
- The treatments using mulch from white lupin and black oat intercropped with white lupin increase the maize yield in the organic no-tillage system;
- Jack bean intercropping in the same row reduces the maize yield potential when compared to maize cultivated alone, due to competition between the species.
No-tillage farming remains a challenge in organic farming when the goal is to achieve high yields. Therefore, these results do not corroborate those found in the present study. Intercropping must comply with certain technical criteria, in order to prevent the legume species from competing with maize. As such, it is important to know the soil and climate conditions of the region in question, in order to choose the most appropriate varieties studied the intercropping of maize with different legume species and concluded that planting legumes simultaneously with maize in the same row reduced crop yield. This variation in results depends on the soil and climate conditions in the region and the legume varieties used for intercropping.