Nitrogen Fertilizer Effects on Pea–Barley Intercrop Productivity Compared to Sole Crops in Denmark

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Cereal–legume intercropping increases the nitrogen (N) input from biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) and improves the exploitation of fertilizer and soil N, often leading to higher grain N content and higher productivity per unit land area compared to monocrops. Previous studies have found that these effects are more tangible under low soil and fertilizer N conditions compared to high N availability, and there is a need to assess the N uptake at critical crop development stages in order to time the N application for maximum uptake and use efficiency. The objective of this study was to assess the productivity of pea–barley intercropping compared to monocropping under 0 kg N ha−1 (0 N) and 100 kg N ha−1 (100 N). In 2017, a split plot experimental design was implemented with pea (Pisum sativum) sole crop (SC pea), barley (Hordeum vulgare) sole crop (SC barley), and pea–barley intercrop (IC total) as the main plots and 100 N applications in two 50 kg N ha−1 splits at 30 and 60 days after emergence as subplots within the main plots. The Land Equivalent Ratio (LER), based on grain dry matter (GDM) yields in the pea–barley intercrop (IC total), was higher (1.14 at 0 N and 1.10 at 100 N), indicating 10–14% greater radiation, nutrient, and water use efficiency compared to the sole crops and 4% greater resource use efficiency at 0 N compared to the 100 N; this illustrated greater total intercrop productivity compared to sole crops. The 100 N treatment decreased the SC pea and pea in intercrop (IC pea) GDM and grain dry matter N (GDMN) and increased the GDM and GDMN in SC barley and barley in the intercrop (IC barley). Intercropping increased the grain N content and therefore the protein content of the grains in 0 N and 100 N treatments. The highest fertilizer N yield, % nitrogen derived from fertilizer (%NDFF), and % nitrogen use efficiency (%NUE) were achieved in SC barley followed by IC total, indicating that intercropping improved the soil and fertilizer N use compared to SC pea. The IC pea increased the % nitrogen derived from atmosphere (%NDFA) from 67.9% in SC pea to 70.1% in IC pea. IC total increased the share of %NDFF, %NDFS, and %NDFA compared to the SC pea, which indicated a significant advantage of intercropping due to the complementarity of the component species under limited N supply in the field.
Udgave nummer22
Antal sider18
StatusUdgivet - 2020

ID: 251259068