Nitrogen management and biological nitrogen fixation in sorghum / pigeonpea intercropping on Alfisols of the semi-arid tropics uri icon


  • Pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan L. Millsp) and sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L. Moench), are grown as intercrops on soils typified by low nitrogen (N), particularly Alfisols and Vertisols of the semi-arid tropical areas of India and East Africa. Proper management of fertilizer N in sorghum / pigeonpea intercropping systems is essential to enhancing biological nitrogen fixing ability of pigeonpea, and to increasing grain yields of sorghum. In a 3-year study, we examined the effect of time and rates of fertilizer N application on biological N fixation (BNF) and fertilizer N recovery by pigeonpea and sorghum grown as a sole crop, and as an intercrop on an Alfisol in India. In 1993, N (50 kg N ha ^ ) was all applied at planting ( basal) or at 40 days after sowing (delayed). During 1994-1995, four N rates 0, 25, 50, and 100 kg ha ^ were applied (i) 100% at planting (basal) or (ii ) 67% at 40 days, and 33% at 60 days after sowing (delayed). Delaying N fertilization until 40 days after sowing (DAS), rather than applying at sowing significantly increased (p with sole crop sorghum, and at 25 kg ha ^ for intercrop sorghum. Delaying N fertilization to sorghum significantly (p N recovery in the shoot from 15 to 32% in sole crop, and 10 to 32% in intercrop. Similarly, there was a significant (p N, but by the difference between the nonfertilized N and fertilized plots) from 43-59% in sole crop and from 28-71% in intercrop sorghum. Pigeonpea fixed between 120-170 kg ha ^ of atmospheric N throughout the cropping season. Nitrogen application to the sorghum row, but not to the pigeonpea, enhanced BNF by pigeonpea and maximized fertilizer recovery by sorghum in a sorghum / pigeonpea intercropping

publication date

  • 1997