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Relay intercropping maize (Zea maize) with two different cover crops in a notillage system in Central Brazil : maize grain yield and total biomass production

Balde A.B., Scopel E., Affholder F., Wery J.. 2010. In : Wery Jacques (ed.), Shili-Touzi I. (ed.), Perrin A. (ed.). Proceedings of Agro 2010 : the XIth ESA Congress, August 29th - September 3rd, 2010, Montpellier, France. Montpellier : Agropolis international, p. 287-288. ESA Congress. 11, 2010-08-29/2010-09-03, Montpellier (France).

Intercropping is a practice which can improve resources efficiency, yield level and yield stability compared to sole cropping (e.g. Willey, 1979). Relay intercropping is a system where at least two crops are associated with the two species grown together during at least part of their cycle. Such a partial association could be an interesting approach to develop no-tillage based cropping system for smallholders of the tropical area. It aims at producing maize grain as well as an additional biomass to feed the cattle during the dry season, while maintaining an efficient mulch of residue protecting the soil against erosion. Nevertheless, the dynamics of resources, the consequences on the productivity and environmental benefits of relay intercropping managed under no-tillage conditions have not yet been characterized. The objective of this study was to determine the effect on maize yield and total biomass of introducing two cover crops, a legume and a poacea as typical options for this kind of cropping system, into a maize crop established under a no-tillage mulch based cropping system in the context of the Cerrado of central Brazil.

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