Wheat-Faba bean intercrops improve plant nutrition, yield, and availability of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) in soil
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In order to promote agroecological practices, this study compares two cropping systems, i.e., intercropping versus sole cropping of a cereal - durum wheat (Triticum durum Desf. ) and a nitrogen-fixing legume - faba bean (Vicia faba L.) on plant growth, Efficiency in the use of rhizobial symbiosis (EURS), grain yield and phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) accumulation in soil and plant. This study conducted during two cropping seasons in a field trial in the region of Tizi Ouzou, Algeria, shows that shoot dry weight (SDW), nitrogen nutrition index (NNI), phosphorus use efficiency (PUE), land use efficiency (LER), and grain yield were significantly higher for intercropped than for the sole cropped wheat. Furthermore, there was a considerable increase in soil P and N content across the two years of intercropping and sole cropping compared to the unseeded weeded fallow. Intercropping, it is claimed, improves wheat N nutrition by increasing the availability of soil-N for wheat. This increase might be due to reduced interspecific competition between legumes and wheat plants than intraspecific competition between wheat plants due to the legume’s ability to compensate by atmospheric nitrogen fixation.