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Tropentag, September 14 - 16, 2022, Prague

"Can agroecological farming feed the world? Farmers' and academia's views."

Intercropping potatoes with legumes increase land productivity, soil fertility and resource use efficiencies

Elmar Schulte-Geldermann1, Shadrack Nyawade2, Harum Gitari3

1TH Bingen, Life Science, Germany
2International Potato Center, Potato Agro-Food Systems Program, Kenya
3Kenyatta University, Agricultural Science & Technology, Kenya


Intercropping can be a viable strategy for diversifying cropping systems to ease food insecurity, given that arable land is shrinking, and demand for food crops is increasing due to rapid population growth. In this context a field study was conducted Kenya to test the effect of potato-legume intercropping systems on soil erosion and resource use efficiencies. Potato was grown singly and intercropped with dolichos (Lablab purpureus L.), lima bean (Phaseolus lunatus) or hairy vetch (Vicia sativa L.). Run-off plots with a 11 % slopes were established to measure soil erosion. Leaf area index (LAI), light interception, soil temperature and soil water contents (SWC) were quantified at different stages of potato growth and related with the radiation use efficiency (RUE) and crop water productivity (CWP) of potato.
Legume intercropping enhanced groundcover establishment with a by 26-57% increased LAI and reduced soil and nutrient losses by 45–80% compared with sole potato.
Intercropping increased significantly lowered the soil temperatures in the 0–30 cm depth by up to 7.3 °C. This caused an increase in SWC by up to 38%, thus increasing RUE by 56–78% and CWP by 45–67%.
Intercropping potato with a high population of legume (in 1: 2.4 patterns), resulted in not only higher system productivity but also potato equivalent yield compared to 1.1:2. Intercropping proved to be advantageous with actual yield loss decreasing with increasing proportion of the legumes, whereas IA increased as the population of legumes increased. With regard to competition between the intercrops, the potato was more aggressive in all cropping systems, and it dominated over legume. Aggressivity and dominance capacity was higher in 1: 2.4 than 1.1:2 series. These results suggest that potato-legume intercropping may provide viable agroecological intensification options, especially for smallholder farmers.

Keywords: Potato-legume intercropping, resource use efficiency, soil erosion

Contact Address: Elmar Schulte-Geldermann, TH Bingen, Life Science, Berlinstrasse 109, 55411 Bingen, Germany, e-mail: e.schulte.genannt.geldermann@th-bingen.de

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