Mutual Legume Intercropping for Forage Production in Temperate Regions

  • Branko ĆupinaEmail author
  • Aleksandar Mikić
  • Frederick L. Stoddard
  • Đorđe Krstić
  • Eric Justes
  • Laurent Bedoussac
  • Joële Fustec
  • Borivoj Pejić
Part of the Sustainable Agriculture Reviews book series (SARV, volume 7)


Carefully designed intercropping systems can have many advantages in comparison to monocropping such as increased forage yield, enhanced weed control, reduced soil erosion and, in the case of legumes, improved soil fertility due to their symbiosis with nitrogen-fixating bacteria. In addition the use of forage legumes is increasing for the rations of ruminants because legumes supply animal husbandry with protein-rich diets. Due to lower forage yield from perennial legumes in the first planting year and a critical standing ability of annual forage legumes, farmers tend to establish these crops with a companion crop. The first trials in Serbia studied the role an annual legume in the establishment of a perennial legume. Field pea cultivars with reduced plant height, semi-leafless leaf types and improved lodging tolerance were included together with a pure red clover stand and its mixture with oats as controls. When sown as the companion crop an annual forage legume can provide an economic yield during the perennial forage crop establishment. In average, field pea as a companion crop increases forage annual dry matter yield by 2.56 t ha − 1 and reduces weeds in red clover stand by 29%. Another group of trials involved mixtures of autumn-sown cool season, spring-sown cool season and warm season annual legumes for forage production. Here one plant had good and another poor standing ability and with concurring development stages and similar growth habit. There were economically justified intercrops with Land Equivalent Ratio (LER) values of forage dry matter yield higher than 1, such as winter faba bean with winter common vetch (1.42), spring faba bean with spring grass pea (1.44) and pigeon pea with lablab bean (1.12). The achieved results in the mutual legume intercropping research in Serbia encourage the similar research in the neighbouring West Balkan Countries and other European temperate regions.


Agronomic performance Annual legumes Forage yield Intercropping Land equivalent ratio Perennial legumes establishment 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Branko Ćupina
    • 1
    Email author
  • Aleksandar Mikić
    • 2
  • Frederick L. Stoddard
    • 3
  • Đorđe Krstić
    • 1
  • Eric Justes
    • 4
  • Laurent Bedoussac
    • 4
  • Joële Fustec
    • 5
  • Borivoj Pejić
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of AgricultureUniversity of Novi SadNovi SadSerbia
  2. 2.Institute of Field and Vegetable CropsNovi SadSerbia
  3. 3.Department of Agricultural SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  4. 4.INRA ToulouseUMR 1248 AGIR Equipe VASCOCastanet-TolosanFrance
  5. 5.UP-SP Laboratoire d’Écophysiologie Végétale et AgroécologieEcole Supérieure d’Agriculture – PRES Université Nantes Angers Le MansAngersFrance

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