Autumn Maize Intercropped with Tropical Forages: Crop Residues, Nutrient Cycling, Subsequent Soybean and Soil Quality
Abstract, 2016, Soil Use and Management
Autumn maize intercropped with tropical forages can raise the amount of crop residues and improve nutrient cycling, favoring subsequent soybean crop. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of forms of implementation of intercropping of irrigated autumn maize with tropical forages on yield, decomposition, nutrient accumulation and release, and on the ratio of lignin/total N of forage residues, yield components, and grain yield of subsequent soybean, and on soil physical and chemical properties, under no-tillage in lowland Cerrado. The experiment was arranged in randomized blocks in a factorial (4 × 3 + 1) design with one control and four replications. The treatments consisted of four forages: Palisade grass, Congo grass, and two Guinea grass cultivars (Tanzânia and Áries); and three methods of sowing intercrops of forage-autumn maize: forage sown simultaneously with maize in the sowing furrow, mixed with fertilizer; forage sown by broadcasting on the day of maize sowing; and forage seeds mixed with fertilizer broadcast on maize in growth stage V4; plus a control (maize monoculture). The decomposition and nutrient release rate of the forage residues were evaluated by the litter bag method, 30, 60, 90, and 120 days after desiccation. Sowing the forages in the furrow and by broadcasting raise the total amount of maize residues compared to method V4. Regardless of the forage type and sowing methods, intercropping increases the amount of residues compared to maize monoculture. The forages and sowing methods had no influence on nutrient accumulation in the residues at the time of desiccation and at the lowest lignin/total N ratio in Congo grass residues, and a logarithmic decay was observed. Forage and sowing methods did not influence the macronutrient release rate from crop residues for 120 days after desiccation; the release of N, P, K and Mg is logarithmic and the release of Ca and S exponential. Forage and sowing methods do not influence yield components and grain yield of subsequent soybean. However, intercropping increased grain yield of subsequent soybean compared to soybean after maize monoculture, and preserved the soil chemical and physical properties.