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Plant-mediated rhizospheric interactions in maize-pigeon pea intercropping enhance soil aggregation and organic phosphorus storage

Garland, Gina; Bünemann, E. K.; Oberson, A.; Frossard, E. and Six, J. (2017) Plant-mediated rhizospheric interactions in maize-pigeon pea intercropping enhance soil aggregation and organic phosphorus storage. Plant and Soil, 415 (1-2), pp. 37-55.

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Online at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11104-016-3145-1

Summary

Background and aims
In Malawi, strategies are being sought to boost maize production through improvements in soil fertility. This study assessed the impact of intercropping maize (Zea mays) with pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan) in Lixisols of Malawi on yield, biological N fixation, soil aggregation, and P forms within soil aggregates.
Methods
Maize and pigeon pea were grown intercropped in pots, with varying degrees of root interaction in order to understand the relative importance of biochemical versus physical rhizospheric interactions. Following harvest, soils were separated into aggregate fractions using wet-sieving, and the nutrient content of all fractions was assessed.
Results
The proportion of macroaggregates and microaggregates increased by 52 and 111%, respectively, in the intercropping treatment compared to sole maize, which significantly increased organic P storage in the microaggregates of intercropped compared to sole maize (84 versus 29 mg P kg−1, respectively). Biologically fixed N increased from 89% in the sole pigeon pea to 96% in the intercropped system.
Conclusions
Intercropping maize with pigeon pea can have a significant and positive impact on soil structure as well as nutrient storage in these high P-sorbing soils. This is caused primarily by physical root contact and to a lesser degree by biochemical activities.


EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:Phosphorus, Soil aggregation, Zea mays, Cajanus cajan, Intercropping, Lixisol, Department of Soil Sciences, Soil Quality and Functions
Subjects: Soil > Soil quality
Crop husbandry > Production systems > Root crops
Research affiliation: Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Soil Sciences
Switzerland > ETHZ - Agrarwissenschaften
ISSN:Print: 0032-079X, Online: 1573-5036
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-016-3145-1
Related Links:http://www.fibl.org/en/switzerland/research/soil-sciences/soil-quality-and-functions.html
Deposited By: Forschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau, FiBL
ID Code:32324
Deposited On:13 Nov 2017 12:31
Last Modified:13 Nov 2017 12:31
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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