Forage productivity, silage characteristics and digestion kinetics of cereal-legumes mixture under different tillage systems and varying row and seed ratios

In many parts of world intercropping of legumes and non-legumes is considered very important practice. When legumes is grown in mixture with non- legumes they contribute well to non- legume crop for nitrogen. To investigate the forage potential and characteristics of silage of cereal-legume intercropping under various planting ratios and different tillage systems the study was conducted during spring season 2013 and 2014, which was comprised of two experiments each experiment consist of three parts Field trial, Laboratory scale silage and In situ digestion kinetics trial. Field trials were conducted at Agronomic Research Area, University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan. The tillage practices and row ratios in first experiment were minimum tillage; one ploughing with cultivator followed by planking; deep tillage; one ploughing with chisel plough + one ploughing with cultivator followed by planking; and row ratios sole sorghum, sole millet, sole sesbania, sorghum + sesbania(1:1), sorghum + sesbania(1:2), sorghum + sesbania(2:1), millet + sesbania(1:1), millet + sesbania(1:2), millet + sesbania(2:1). The tillage practices and seed ratios for second experiment were include minimum tillage; one ploughing with cultivator followed by planking; deep tillage; one ploughing with chisel plough + one ploughing with cultivator followed by planking; and seed ratios sole maize, sole cowpea, maize + cowpea (60% + 40%), maize + cowpea (70% + 30%), maize + cowpea (80% + 20%). Field trials of both experiments were laid out in randomized complete block design having split plot arrangement with three replications. In both experiments tillage practices significantly affected the growth and yield of forage. Results showed that the deep tillage practice significantly increased the emergence count, plant height, number of leaves per plant fresh and dry weight per plant, fresh forage yield and dry matter yield while it has little effect on the quality of cereal-legume mixed forage. In both experiments intercropping ratios significantly affected the growth, yield and quality of forage. In first experiment cereals sown in mixture with sesbania with different row ratios, sorghum sown alone produced significantly higher fresh forage yield and dry matter yield than all other row ratios of cereals in combination with sesbania. Minimum fresh forage yield and dry matter yield was observed in sole sesbania during both years of study. All cereal + sesbania mixture produced higher crude protein percentage, ash contents and lower crude fiber percentage than sole cereals. Land equivalent ratio (LER) was highest in sorghum + sesbania (1:1) row ratio. In second experiment maize sown in mixture with cowpea with different seed ratios, maize sown alone produced significantly higher fresh forage yield and dry matter yield than all other seed ratios of maize in combination with cowpea. Minimum fresh forage yield and dry matter yield was observed in sole cowpea during both years of study. All maize + cowpea mixture produced higher crude protein percentage, ash contents and lower crude fiber percentage than sole maize. Land equivalent ratio was highest in maize + cowpea (70% + 30%) seed ratio. Silage quality increased with increased in concentration of legumes crop in forage mixture as compared to sole cereal crop silage which resulted in an increase in dry matter (DM) and neutral detergent fiber (NDF) degradability in rumen of cannulated buffalo bulls.

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