Agronomy | Free Full-Text | The Impact of Intercropping on Soil Fertility and Sugar Beet Productivity


There is a lack of research on the practice of intercropping sugar beet and the impact of such agrocenoses on soil and crop fertility, especially under organic farming conditions. For this reason, a three-year stationary field experiment was performed at Vytautas Magnus University, Agriculture Academy, Lithuania. Sugar beet was grown continuously with intercropped Persian clover (Trifolium resupinatum L., MC), white mustard (Sinapis alba L., MM) and spring barley (Hordeum vulgare L., MB) as a living mulch. Inter-row loosening (CT) and mulching with ambient weeds (MW) were used as comparative treatments. The results showed that, under minimal fertilization, CT and intercropping increased the average content of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in the soil. However, the average content of magnesium was reduced in single cases (MW, MB), and the average content of sulphur was reduced in all cases. Intercropping significantly decreased the yields of sugar beet root-crop, but was mainly neutral in quality terms. The meteorological conditions during experimentation had a weak impact on root-crop quantity and quality. Generally, the practice of sugar beet intercropping requires more detailed research on how to minimize the competition between the sugar beet, living mulch and weeds, and how to balance the nutrition conditions.

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