Effects of Spacing of Elephant Grass and Vetch Intercropping on Agronomic Performance and Herbage Yield of Elephant Grass
An experiment was conducted to investigate the effects of different spacing of
elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureum) and vetch (Vicia dasycarpa and Vicia
villossa) intercropping on plant height, leaf to stem ratio, tillering, stand count, and
subsequent dry matter yield (DMY) of elephant grass. The forages for field
experiment were evaluated during the main cropping season of 2016 and 2017 at
Holetta and Debre Zeit Agricultural Research Centers in the central highlands of
Ethiopia. The treatments consisting of three vetch intercropping (pure stand elephant
grass, elephant grass intercropped with V. dasycarpa and V. villosa) and four
spacing of elephant grass S1(75*75), S2(100*50), S3(125*25) and S4(50*50 cm).
The treatment combinations were planted on 13.5m2 plots using a randomized
complete block design with three replications. Most measured traits revealed
significant (P<0.05) differences between the treatments, years and locations. Vetch
intercropping resulted 70.0 and 8.5% yield advantage over pure stand elephant
grass at Holetta and Debre Zeit, respectively. When combined over locations and
years, average annual DMY was 9.47, 12.16, and 12.01 t/ ha for elephant grass
planted in pure stand, intercropped with V. dasycarpa and V. villosa respectively.
In the combined analysis, herbage DM produced 12.96, 11.02, 10.55, and 10.32 t/ha
when planted at spacing of S4, S3, S2, and S1, respectively. S4 had 17.6, 22.8 and
25.6% higher DMY advantage when compared with S3, S2 and S1, respectively. In
conclusion, vetch intercropping (at a seed rate of 25 kg/ha) three weeks after
elephant grass establishment at inter and intra row spacing of 50 cm substantially
improve annual DM yields of elephant grass. Hence, it could be advisable to be
adopted by farmers who grow elephant grass in pure stands as livestock feed.