System Productivity of Forage Legumes Intercropped with Maize and Performance of the Component Crops in Kombolcha, Eastern Ethiopia

  • Getachew Bekele Agricultural Technical Vocational and Educational Training College, Kombolcha, Eastern Ethiopia
  • Ketema Belete College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Haramaya University, P O Box 138, Dire Dawa, Ethiopia
  • J.J. Sharma College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Haramaya University, P O Box 138, Dire Dawa, Ethiopia


The highlands of Ethiopia are characterized by shrinking cultivated areas per household and scarcity of livestock feed resulting from a rapid increase in human population and expansion of arable land. Integrating forage legumes with food crops has been shown to be a useful alternative for increasing crop productivity. However, due to small land holdings, farmers are reluctant to intercrop forage legumes with food crops for fear of compromising grain yields. Therefore, a field experiment was conducted at Kombolcha Agricultural, Technical, and Vocational Education Training College located in Eastern Hararghe Zone during the 2009 cropping season. The objective of the study was to identify suitable forage legume, its optimum seed rate and sowing methods for intercropping with maize and to evaluate the effect of intercropping on system productivity, crude protein content of the maize stover, and the forage legumes. Forage legumes, vetch and lablab were row-intercropped with maize and broadcast at 25, 50, and 75% of the recommended seed rates with the recommended maize population of 44,444 plants ha-1. Sole maize and forage legumes were used as control treatments. The experiment was laid out in randomized complete block design (RCBD) in a factorial arrangement with three replications. The results showed higher mean 1000 kernel weight of maize in maize/vetch than in maize/lablab intercropping. Intercropping significantly reduced the final stand count of maize by 3.2% and that of the legumes by 10.6% compared to the sole crops. The highest dry biomass of the forage (2485 kg ha-1) was obtained from row intercropped vetch at 50% of the recommended seed rate. The highest fodder crude protein yield (849.4 kg ha-1) was obtained from row-intercropped vetch at 50% seed rate. Intercropping significantly enhanced stover crude protein content, crude protein yield and total fodder protein yield by 20, 18 and 39%, respectively as compared to the sole cropping. In conclusion, the results indicated that row intercropped vetch at 50% seed rate was more advantageous than maize-lablab intercrop.


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