Grainy vegetables can help corn crops get the missing nutrients …

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One of the most read articles on MyScienceWork this month was about intercropping. This method of cultivation helps to acidify the soils of arid regions, thus facilitating the dissolution of phosphorus.

When it comes to agriculture, most minds imagine fields of wheat, corn or lavender as far as the eye can see. Monoculture is currently the most visible form of agriculture in all landscapes. However, this is by no means the only form of agriculture that exists. In some arid regions, where nutrients are not present in sufficient quantities in the soil, new cultivation methods could alleviate this problem.

Authors Sareban Hadi, Madani Ahad, and Vazin Farshid from the Agronomy Department at Azad Islamic University in Gonabad, Iran, this year published an article on intercropping of pulses. Published in the Egyptian agricultural research journal, the article “Encouraging Farmers to Adopt Sustainable Water and nutrient Management in arid agroecosystems: Problems, Solutions and Future Studies” offers solutions to nitrogen and phosphorus deficiency in arid soils. using intercropping methods.

In acidic soils, phosphorus and nitrogen are essential elements present in too small quantities. Intercropping involves planting other things at the same time as the main crop, in this case pulses. These legumes, used with sunflower, corn, cotton or other crops, could allow the introduction of missing nutrients. This is because legumes increase H ions in the soil, which has the effect of acidifying the soil. And a more acidic soil helps dissolve phosphorus better. This is true in today’s wheat / legume intercrops, where phosphorus uptake is higher than in monoculture. Additionally, pulses play other beneficial roles by increasing soil organic matter, nutrient availability, and water retention.

However, adding a component to the main crop is a challenge, as these new components must not “steal” water and nutrients from other plants. For water, the latter is most often deep, so field crops have easy access to it, and the short roots of grain legumes cannot rob them of this resource; but the essential nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) are found in homogeneous amounts in the soil. If they are scarce and legumes take over, then the yield is lower for farmers. The solution to this problem is to increase the number of nutrients in the soil, for example with bacteria which solubilize phosphate.

In conclusion, the insertion of pulses in cotton, corn or other crops in arid areas increases the amount of H ions in the soil. These ions acidify the soil, and a more acidic soil dissolves phosphorus better. However, nitrogen fixation by pulses is not sufficient and the addition of nitrogen fertilizer is necessary.

Sareban, Hadi, Ahad Madani and Farshid Vazin. “Encouraging farmers to adopt sustainable water and nutrient management in arid agroecosystems: problems, solutions and future studies.” Egyptian Journal of Agricultural Research 99.2 (2021): 136-141.


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