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Aliyeh Salehi, Sina Fallah, Reinhard W. Neugschwandtner, Bano Mehdi and Hans-Peter Kaul

Summary

Intercropping can increase crop growth and yield due to improved resource use efficiency. A two-year field experiment was performed in Shahrekord (Iran) to determine the effect of crop stand composition and fertilizer type on the productions of aboveground dry matter and growth parameters of fenugreek-buckwheat intercrops. Sole crops of fenugreek (F) and buckwheat (B) were compared to the three substitutive intercropping ratios (F:B = 2:1, 1:1 and 1:2). Crop stands were fertilized with chemical fertilizer or broiler litter. Fenugreek could produce in intercrops a similar amount of above-ground dry matter compared to its corresponding share on the sowing ratio. Contrary to that, buckwheat could produce in intercrops more above-ground dry matter than its share on the sowing ratio, especially with a low to medium share of buckwheat. Consequently, the intercrops with F:B (2:1) and F:B (1:1) had an above-ground dry matter yield advantage compared to the pure crop stands of both crops. Broiler litter was more effective in increasing the growth rates and thus the above-ground dry matter production compared to the chemical fertilizer. Thus, growing fenugreek and buckwheat in intercrops fertilized with broiler litter can be beneficial for increasing the biomass production in semiarid environments.