Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 65, Issue 1, pp 61–71 | Cite as

Interspecific facilitation of nutrient uptake by intercropped maize and faba bean

  • Long Li
  • Fusuo Zhang
  • Xiaolin Li
  • Peter Christie
  • Jianhao Sun
  • Sicun Yang
  • Caixian Tang


Interspecific complementary interactions in N, P and K uptake betweenintercropped maize (Zea mays L. cv. Zhongdan No. 2) andfababean (Vicia faba L. cv. Linxia Dacaidou) were investigatedin a field experiment. A root barrier study was also set up in whichbelowgroundpartitions were used to determine the contribution of interspecific rootinteractions to crop nutrient uptake. Nitrogen uptake by intercropped faba beanwas higher than (no P fertilizer) or similar to (33 kg Pha−1 of P fertilizer) that by sole faba bean during theearly growth stages (first to third sampling) of faba bean, and was similar to(no P fertilizer) or higher than (33 kg P ha−1 ofP fertilizer) that by sole faba bean at maturity. Nitrogen uptake byintercropped maize did not differ from that by sole maize at maturity, exceptwhen P fertilizer was applied. Intermingling of maize and faba bean rootsincreased N uptake by both crop species by about 20% compared with complete orpartial separation of the root systems. Intercropping also led to someimprovement in P nutrition of both crop species. Maize shoot P concentrationswere similar to those of sole maize during early growth stages and becameprogressively higher until they were significantly higher than those of solemaize at maturity. Intercropping increased shoot P concentration in faba beanatthe flowering stage and in maize at maturity, and increased P uptake by bothplant species at maturity. Phosphorus uptake by faba bean with rootintermingling (no root partition) was 28 and 11% higher than with complete(plastic sheet) and partial (400 mesh nylon net) root barriers, respectively.Maize showed similar trends, with corresponding P uptake values of 29 and 17%.Unlike N and P, K nutrition was not affected by the presence of root barriers.

Multiple cropping Nitrogen Phosphorus Potassium Root barrier Root interactions 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Long Li
    • 1
  • Fusuo Zhang
    • 1
  • Xiaolin Li
    • 1
  • Peter Christie
    • 1
  • Jianhao Sun
    • 2
  • Sicun Yang
    • 2
  • Caixian Tang
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Plant NutritionChina Agricultural UniversityBeijingPeople's Republic of China
  2. 2.Institute of Soils and FertilizersGansu Academy of Agricultural SciencesLanzhouPeople's Republic of China
  3. 3.Soil Science and Plant NutritionThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

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