The effect of intercropping on the efficiency of faba bean – rhizobial symbiosis and durum wheat soil-nitrogen acquisition in a Mediterranean agroecosystem G., Blavet D., Benlahrech S., Kouakoua E., Couderc P., Deleporte P., Desclaux D., Latati M., Pansu M., Drevon J., Ounane S.M. (2018): The effect of intercropping on the efficiency of faba bean – rhizobial symbiosis and durum wheat soil-nitrogen acquisition in a Mediterranean agroecosystem  . Plant Soil Environ., 64: 138-146.
download PDF

The aim of this study was to compare the rhizobial symbiosis and carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) accumulations in soil and plants in intercropping versus sole cropping in biennial rotation of a cereal – durum wheat (Triticum durum Desf.), and a N2-fixing legume – faba bean (Vicia faba L.) over a three-year period at the INRA (National Institue of Agronomic Research) experimental station in the Mauguio district, south-east of Montpellier, France. Plant growth, nodulation and efficiency in the use of rhizobial symbiosis (EURS) for the legume, nitrogen nutrition index (NNI) for the cereal, and N and C accumulation in the soil were evaluated. Shoot dry weight (SDW) and NNI were significantly higher for intercropped than for the sole cropped wheat whereas there was no significant difference on SDW between the intercropped and sole cropped faba beans. EURS was higher in intercropped than in sole cropped faba bean. Furthermore, by comparison with a weeded fallow, there was a significant increase in soil C and N content over the three-year period of intercropping and sole cropping within the biennial rotation. It is concluded that intercropping increases the N nutrition of wheat by increasing the availability of soil-N for wheat. This increase may be due to a lower interspecific competition between legume and wheat than intra-specific competition between wheat plants, thanks to the compensation that the legume can achieve by fixing the atmospheric nitrogen.


Barthes B., Azontonde A., Blanchart E., Girardin C., Villenave C., Oliver R., Feller C. (2006): Effect of a legume cover crop on carbon storage and erosion in an ultisol under maize cultivation in southern Benin. In: Roose E.J.,‎ Rattan L., Feller C., Barthes B., Stewart B.A. (eds.): Soil Erosion and Carbon Dynamics. Boca Raton, CRC Press, 143–155.
Betencourt Elodie, Duputel Marek, Colomb Bruno, Desclaux Dominique, Hinsinger Philippe (2012): Intercropping promotes the ability of durum wheat and chickpea to increase rhizosphere phosphorus availability in a low P soil. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 46, 181-190
Bedoussac Laurent, Justes Eric (2010): The efficiency of a durum wheat-winter pea intercrop to improve yield and wheat grain protein concentration depends on N availability during early growth. Plant and Soil, 330, 19-35
Callaway R.M. (2007): Positive Interactions and Interdependence in Plant Communities. Amsterdam, Dordrecht, Springer.
Chapagain Tejendra, Riseman Andrew (2014): Barley–pea intercropping: Effects on land productivity, carbon and nitrogen transformations. Field Crops Research, 166, 18-25
Cong Wen-Feng, Hoffland Ellis, Li Long, Six Johan, Sun Jian-Hao, Bao Xing-Guo, Zhang Fu-Suo, Van Der Werf Wopke (2015): Intercropping enhances soil carbon and nitrogen. Global Change Biology, 21, 1715-1726
Dahmardeh M., Ghanbari A., Syahsar B.A., Ramrodi M. (2010): The role of intercropping maize (Zea mays L.) and cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L.) on yield and soil chemical properties. African Journal of Agricultural Research, 5: 631–636.
Drevon Jean-Jacques, Alkama Nora, Araujo Adelson, Beebe Steve, Blair Matthew W., Hamza Hesham, Jaillard Benoit, Lopez Aline, Martinez-Romero Esperanza, Rodino Paula, Tajini Fatma, Zaman-Allah Mainassara (2011): Nodular diagnosis for ecological engineering of the symbiotic nitrogen fixation with legumes. Procedia Environmental Sciences, 9, 40-46
Dyer Lisa, Oelbermann Maren, Echarte Laura (2012): Soil carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions during the growing season from temperate maize-soybean intercrops. Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science, 175, 394-400
Grigg D.B. (1974): The early history of agriculture. In: Grigg D.B. (ed): The Agricultural Systems of the World: An Evolutionary Approach. New York, Cambridge University Press, 9–23.
Hauggaard-Nielsen Henrik, Jørnsgaard Bjarne, Kinane Julia, Jensen Erik Steen (2008): Grain legume–cereal intercropping: The practical application of diversity, competition and facilitation in arable and organic cropping systems. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, 23, 3-12
Huňady I., Hochman M. (2018): Potential of legume-cereal intercropping for increasing yields and yield stability for self-sufficiency with animal fodder in organic farming. Czech Journal of Genetics and Plant Breeding, 50, 185-194
IPCC (2007): Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report. 2007. In: Pachauri R.K., Reisinger A. (eds.): Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Geneva, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Jarecki Marek K., Lal Rattan (2003): Crop Management for Soil Carbon Sequestration. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences, 22, 471-502
Latati M., Blavet D., Alkama N., Laoufi H., Drevon J. J., Gérard F., Pansu M., Ounane S. M. (2014): The intercropping cowpea-maize improves soil phosphorus availability and maize yields in an alkaline soil. Plant and Soil, 385, 181-191
Latati M., Bargaz A., Belarbi B., Lazali M., Benlahrech S., Tellah S., Kaci G., Drevon J.J., Ounane S.M. (2016a): The intercropping common bean with maize improves the rhizobial efficiency, resource use and grain yield under low phosphorus availability. European Journal of Agronomy, 72: 80–90.
Lemaire Gilles, Jeuffroy Marie-Hélène, Gastal François (2008): Diagnosis tool for plant and crop N status in vegetative stage. European Journal of Agronomy, 28, 614-624
Li Bai, Li Yu-Ying, Wu Hua-Mao, Zhang Fang-Fang, Li Chun-Jie, Li Xue-Xian, Lambers Hans, Li Long (2016): Root exudates drive interspecific facilitation by enhancing nodulation and N 2 fixation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113, 6496-6501
Li Long, Sun Jianhao, Zhang Fusuo, Li Xiaolin, Yang Sicun, Rengel Zdenko (2001): Wheat/maize or wheat/soybean strip intercropping. Field Crops Research, 71, 123-137
Li Wenxue, Li Long, Sun Jianhao, Guo Tianwen, Zhang Fusuo, Bao Xingguo, Peng An, Tang C (2005): Effects of intercropping and nitrogen application on nitrate present in the profile of an Orthic Anthrosol in Northwest China. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 105, 483-491
Liebman Matt, Dyck Elizabeth (1993): Crop Rotation and Intercropping Strategies for Weed Management. Ecological Applications, 3, 92-122
Mohamed Osman Ali E.A.A., Awadelkareem A.M., Gasim S., El Amir Yousif N. (2014): Nutritional composition and antinutrients of two faba bean (Vicia faba L.) lines. International Journal of Advanced Research, 12: 538–544.
Ohyama T. (2017): The role of legume-rhizobium symbiosis in sustainable agriculture. In: Sulieman S., Phan Tran L.S. (eds.): Legume Nitrogen Fixation in Soils with Low Phosphorus Availability. Cham, Springer, 1–20.
Pansu M., Gautheyrou J., Loyer J.Y. (2001): Soil Analysis: Sampling, Instrumentation and Quality Control. Lisse, A.A. Balkema.
R Core Team (2016): R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. Vienna, R Foundation for Statistical Computing. Available at:
Rharrabti Y., Villegas D., Del Moral L. F. Garcia, Aparicio N., Elhani S., Royo C. (2001): Environmental and genetic determination of protein content and grain yield in durum wheat under Mediterranean conditions. Plant Breeding, 120, 381-388
Scalise Antonella, Tortorella Demetrio, Pristeri Aurelio, Petrovičová Beatrix, Gelsomino Antonio, Lindström Kristina, Monti Michele (2015): Legume–barley intercropping stimulates soil N supply and crop yield in the succeeding durum wheat in a rotation under rainfed conditions. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 89, 150-161
Tang Xiaoyan, Bernard Laetitia, Brauman Alain, Daufresne Tanguy, Deleporte Philippe, Desclaux Dominique, Souche Gérard, Placella Sarah A., Hinsinger Philippe (2014): Increase in microbial biomass and phosphorus availability in the rhizosphere of intercropped cereal and legumes under field conditions. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 75, 86-93
Vandermeer J. (1989): The Ecology of Intercropping. New York, Cambridge University Press.
Zhang Fusuo, Li Long (2003): Using competitive and facilitative interactions in intercropping systems enhances crop productivity and nutrient-use efficiency. Plant and Soil, 248, 305-312
download PDF

© 2022 Czech Academy of Agricultural Sciences | Prohlášení o přístupnosti