Sorghum grain yield, forage biomass production and revenue as affected by intercropping time

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Sorghum is an excellent alternative to other grains in poor soil where corn does not develop very well, as well as in regions with warm and dry winters. Intercropping sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] with forage crops, such as palisade grass [Brachiaria brizantha (Hochst. ex A. Rich) Stapf] or guinea grass (Panicum maximum Jacq.), provides large amounts of biomass for use as straw in no-tillage systems or as pasture. However, it is important to determine the appropriate time at which these forage crops have to be sown into sorghum systems to avoid reductions in both sorghum and forage production and to maximize the revenue of the cropping system. This study, conducted for three growing seasons at Botucatu in the State of São Paulo in Brazil, evaluated how nutrient concentration, yield components, sorghum grain yield, revenue, and forage crop dry matter production were affected by the timing of forage intercropping. The experimental design was a randomized complete block design. Intercropping systems were not found to cause reductions in the nutrient concentration in sorghum plants. The number of panicles per unit area of sorghum alone (133,600), intercropped sorghum and palisade grass (133,300) and intercropped sorghum and guinea grass (134,300) corresponded to sorghum grain yields of 5439, 5436 and 5566kgha-1, respectively. However, the number of panicles per unit area of intercropped sorghum and palisade grass (144,700) and intercropped sorghum and guinea grass (145,000) with topdressing of fertilizers for the sorghum resulted in the highest sorghum grain yields (6238 and 6127kgha-1 for intercropping with palisade grass and guinea grass, respectively). Forage production (8112, 10,972 and 13,193Mg ha-1 for the first, second and third cuts, respectively) was highest when sorghum and guinea grass were intercropped. The timing of intercropping is an important factor in sorghum grain yield and forage production. Palisade grass or guinea grass must be intercropped with sorghum with topdressing fertilization to achieve the highest sorghum grain yield, but this significantly reduces the forage production. Intercropping sorghum with guinea grass sown simultaneously yielded the highest revenue per ha (€ 1074.4), which was 2.4 times greater than the revenue achieved by sowing sorghum only. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.




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European Journal of Agronomy, v. 51, p. 130-139.

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