||18th World Congress of Soil Science
July 9-15, 2006 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Livestock is an integral part of Indian Agriculture and plays a vital role in rural economy. Balanced nutrition and adequate feeding of animals are the major factors for improved animal production on sustainable basis. The heavy livestock pressure on the limited land resources in the country calls for increasing the fodder production. The scope of increasing the area cultivated for forages is rather limited, because of mounting pressure and preferential need for food and commercial crops. Research on the use of fertilizer in fodder maize has been confined to inorganic sources under irrigated conditions. Of late, it has been reported that continuous use of inorganic sources of nutrients has led to deterioration of soil health and resulting in stagnation or reduction in productivity of crops (Biswas and Bendi, 1989). Hence, the present investigation was conducted to study the effect of organic, inorganic and microbial sources of nutrients alone and in combination on growth and fodder yield of maize and cowpea grown in intercropping system. A field experiment was conducted at Department of Forage Crops, TNAU, Coimbatore to study the effect of vermicompost, inorganic and biofertilizer application on green and dry fodder yields and fodder quality in maize + cowpea intercropping system. The experiment was laid out in a split plot design with three replications where FYM @ 12.5 t ha-1
, enriched FYM @ 750 kg ha-1
, and vermicompost @ 5 t ha-1
were tested in main plot along with control and 4 levels of NPK viz., 100% NPK(Maize : 30:40:20 kg N, P and K/ha, Cowpea : 25:40:20 kg N, P and K/ha), 75% NPK, 100 % NPK + biofertilizers (Azospirillum and phosphobacteria for maize and Rhizobium and Phosphobacteria for cowpea @ 600 g/kg of seeds as seed treatment) and 75% NPK + biofertilizers were tested in sub plots. The results showed that application of vermicompost @ 5 t ha-1 along with 75% of the recommended dose of inorganic fertilizers gave higher green (Maize : 26.2 t ha-1& Cowpea : 8.10 t ha-1
) and dry fodder (Maize : 4.46 t ha-1& Cowpea : 1.62 t ha-1
) yields and also resulted in increased fodder quality. It also helped in increasing calcium and phosphorus availability in soil and inturn the uptake by plants. The results were in conformity with the findings of Nanjundappa et al (2000). Based on this study, it can be concluded that vermicompost application reduces the inorganic fertilizer bill to the tune of 25 per cent and also improves the soil fertility status, green and dry fodder yields and fodder quality. One hectare of maize + cowpea intercropping system produces the green fodder yield of 105 – 110 t/ha/year(3 crops) which is sufficient to maintain 7 adult and 3 young cattles. The dung obtained from these animals can be used for on farm production of 19.4 tonnes of vermicompost per year.