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A staggered maize–legume intercrop arrangement robustly increases crop yields and economic returns in the highlands of Central Kenya

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dc.contributor.author Mucheru-Muna, M.
dc.contributor.author Pypers, Pieter
dc.contributor.author Mugendi, D.N.
dc.contributor.author Kung'u, J.B.
dc.contributor.author Mugwe, J. N.
dc.contributor.author Merckx, R.
dc.contributor.author Vanlauwe, B.
dc.date.accessioned 2013-05-15T12:17:38Z
dc.date.available 2013-05-15T12:17:38Z
dc.date.issued 2009
dc.identifier.uri http://ir-library.ku.ac.ke/handle/123456789/6805
dc.description DOI:10.1016/j.fcr.2009.10.013 pp.132-139 en_US
dc.description.abstract Smallholder farmers in East-Africa commonly intercrop maize (Zea mays L.) with grain legumes to maximize utilisation of land and labour, and attain larger crop yields. Conventionally, one legume line is intercropped between each pair of maize lines. This study evaluated the potential of a modified two-by-two staggered arrangement (MBILI) to increase crop yields and economic benefits in two sites in Central Kenya with contrasting soil fertility levels during 7 consecutive seasons. Common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.), cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.) and groundnut (Arachis hypogaea L.) were grown as legume intercrops. The MBILI system resulted in increased maize yields in both sites, and increased cowpea yields in the poor site. In the fertile site, using beans as an intercrop was most profitable, and the MBILI system increased net benefits by 40%, relative to the conventional system. In the poor site, groundnut and cowpea were better adapted, and the MBILI system increased net benefit by 12–37%. Positive effects of the MBILI system were most pronounced in the poor site, but occurred independent of soil fertility level. Rainfall amounts and distribution varied widely, but the MBILI system increased yields both under conditions of ample and inadequate rainfall. N balances were negative with beans and groundnut, but neutral with cowpea as the intercrop. A modest N fertilizer application is therefore essential to sustain yields in the long term, especially when beans or groundnuts are intercropped. In conclusion, the MBILI system, when combined with adjusted nutrient inputs, resulted in superior and robust improvements in crop yields and economic benefits, relative to the conventional intercropping system. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.publisher Elseveir en_US
dc.title A staggered maize–legume intercrop arrangement robustly increases crop yields and economic returns in the highlands of Central Kenya en_US
dc.type Article en_US


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