The Journal of Agricultural Science

Crops and Soils

Intercropping with pulses to concentrate nitrogen and sulphur in wheat

M. J. GOODINGa1 c1, E. KASYANOVAa1, R. RUSKEa1, H. HAUGGAARD-NIELSENa2, E. S. JENSENa2, C. DAHLMANNa3, P. VON FRAGSTEINa3, A. DIBETa4, G. CORRE-HELLOUa4, Y. CROZATa4, A. PRISTERIa5, M. ROMEOa5, M. MONTIa5 and M. LAUNAYa6

a1 Department of Agriculture, The University of Reading, Reading RG6 1AR, UK

a2 Risø National Laboratory, DK-4000 Roskilde, Denmark

a3 University of Kassel, D-37213 Witzenhausen, Germany

a4 Ecole Superieure Agriculture, F-49007 Angers, France

a5 University Mediterranea of Reggio Calabria, I-80061 Gallina, Italy

a6 Unité Climat Sol et Environnement, INRA, Site Agroparc, 84914 Avignon Cedex 9, France

SUMMARY

The effects of intercropping wheat with faba bean (Denmark, Germany, Italy and UK) and wheat with pea (France), in additive and replacement designs on grain nitrogen and sulphur concentrations were studied in field experiments in the 2002/03, 2003/04 and 2004/05 growing seasons. Intercropping wheat with grain legumes regularly increased the nitrogen concentration of the cereal grain, irrespective of design or location. Sulphur concentration of the cereal was also increased by intercropping, but less regularly and to a lesser extent compared with effects on nitrogen concentration. Nitrogen concentration (g/kg) in wheat additively intercropped with faba bean was increased by 8% across all sites (weighted for inverse of variance), but sulphur concentration was only increased by 4%, so N:S ratio was also increased by 4%. Intercropping wheat with grain legumes increased sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS)-sedimentation volume. The effect of intercropping on wheat nitrogen concentration was greatest when intercropping had the most deleterious effect on wheat yield and the least deleterious effect on pulse yield. Over all sites and seasons, and irrespective of whether the design was additive or replacement, increases in crude protein concentration in the wheat of 10 g/kg by intercropping with faba bean were associated with 25–30% yield reduction of the wheat, compared with sole-cropped wheat. It was concluded that the increase in protein concentration of wheat grain in intercrops could be of economic benefit when selling wheat for breadmaking, but only if the bean crop was also marketed effectively.

(Received March 27 2007)

(Online publication June 11 2007)

Correspondence:

c1 To whom all correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: m.j.gooding@reading.ac.uk

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