Nitrogen (N) fixation is performed efficiently by leguminous plants, which can then be used as ‘green manure’ to reduce the need for synthetic fertilizer (especially N) and thus sustainably provide satisfactory crop yields with low production costs. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of intercropping with leguminous species used as cover crops on branch growth and nutrient cycling of pepper plants. The experiment was carried out in an indoor system with a randomized block design with four replicates. The treatments consisted of seven leguminous plant species which were planted as cover crops for black pepper plants: Canavalia ensiformis, Mucuna deeringiana, Mucuna pruriens, Cajanus cajan, Crotalaria juncea, Crotalaria spectabilis and the uncovered control. Samples of leaves and branches were harvested from flowering leguminous plants to quantify the production of dry matter. In addition, macro- and micro-nutrients content was measured in the legumes. The growth of the main branch of the pepper plants was measured at 30 and 60 days after the leguminous cover crops were cut. The leguminous plants, M. pruriens, C. ensiformis, C. cajan and C. juncea provided higher accumulation of nutrients and dry matter production in the pepper plants. At 60 days after cutting, intercropping with C. ensiformis supported more growth of pepper plants as determined by main branch measurements.
Key words: Black pepper, cover crops, soil fertility management, soil conservation.
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