Intercropping with pulses to concentrate nitrogen and sulphur in wheat

Michael Gooding, E. Kasyanova, R. E. Ruske, H. Hauggaard-Nielsen, E. S. Jensen, C. Dahlmann, P. von Fragstein, A. Dibet, G. Corre-Hellou, Y. Crozat, A. Pristeri, M. Romeo, M. Monti, M. Launay

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The effects of intercropping wheat with faba bean (Denmark, Germany, Italy and UK) and wheat with pea (France), in additive and replacement designs on grain nitrogen and sulphur concentrations were studied in field experiments in the 2002/03, 2003/04 and 2004/05 growing seasons. Intercropping wheat with grain legumes regularly increased the nitrogen concentration of the cereal grain, irrespective of design or location. Sulphur concentration of the cereal was also increased by intercropping, but less regularly and to a lesser extent compared with effects on nitrogen concentration. Nitrogen concentration (g/kg) in wheat additively intercropped with faba bean was increased by 8% across all sites (weighted for inverse of variance), but sulphur concentration was only increased by 4%, so N:S ratio was also increased by 4%. Intercropping wheat with grain legumes increased sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS)-sedimentation volume. The effect of intercropping on wheat nitrogen concentration was greatest when intercropping had the most deleterious effect on wheat yield and the least deleterious effect on pulse yield. Over all sites and seasons, and irrespective of whether the design was additive or replacement, increases in crude protein concentration in the wheat of 10 g/kg by intercropping with faba bean were associated with 25–30% yield reduction of the wheat, compared with sole-cropped wheat. It was concluded that the increase in protein concentration of wheat grain in intercrops could be of economic benefit when selling wheat for breadmaking, but only if the bean crop was also marketed effectively.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-479
JournalJournal of Agricultural Science
Issue number05
Publication statusPublished - 01 Oct 2007


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