Agron. Sustain. Dev.
Volume 27, Number 2, April-June 2007
Page(s) 95 - 99
Published online 23 March 2007
Agron. Sustain. Dev. 27 (2007) 95-99
DOI: 10.1051/agro:2006033

Sustainable production of barley and wheat by intercropping common vetch

A.S. Lithourgidisa, K.V. Dhimab, I.B. Vasilakoglouc, C.A. Dordasd and M.D. Yiakoulakie

a  Dept. of Agronomy, Aristotle University Farm of Thessaloniki, 570 01 Thermi, Greece
b  Technol. & Educ. Inst. of Thessaloniki, Lab. of Agronomy, 541 01 Echedoros, Greece
c  Technol. & Educ. Inst. of Larissa, Lab. of Weed Science, 411 10 Larissa, Greece
d  Lab. of Agronomy, Aristotle Univ. of Thessaloniki, 541 24 Thessaloniki, Greece
e  Dept. of Forestry & Nat. Environ., Aristotle Univ. of Thessaloniki, 541 24 Thessaloniki, Greece

(Accepted 7 December 2006; published online 23 March 2007)

Abstract - Intercropping legumes with cereals for forage production is a sustainable technique showing several environmental benefits. We studied yields, quality and the growth rate of a 2-year experiment including (1) sole crops of common vetch, barley and winter wheat, and (2) intercrops of common vetch with barley and winter wheat using seeding ratios of 55:45 and 65:35. Our results show that the greatest dry matter yields were obtained with wheat and barley sole crops. The lowest yield was obtained with common vetch sole crop. The intercrops produced about 13-30% more dry matter than the common vetch sole crop, but 12-23% less than cereal sole crops. Further, the growth rate of common vetch and cereals was greater when species were grown as sole crops than in intercrops. Quality components indicated an advantage for the sole crop of common vetch followed by its intercrop with barley at the 65:35 seeding ratio, which exhibited higher crude protein yield than the sole crop of cereals and the other intercrops. The results of this study indicate that common vetch intercrops with barley or winter wheat produced higher dry matter than common vetch sole crop. In addition, the intercrop of common vetch with barley (65:35) provided higher forage quality than the other intercrops. Our study highlights that vetch-cereal intercropping can be used as an alternative cropping system which combines sustainability due to N fixation from common vetch, and high yield and forage quality.

Key words: cereal / crude protein / growth rate / legume

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© INRA, EDP Sciences 2007