Mixtures of legumes for forage production

Branko Ćupina, Aleksandar Mikić, Ðorđe Krstić, Svetlana Vujić, Lana Zorić, Vuk Ðorđević and Pero Erić
Posted: 07.06.2021
In Europe, legumes are mostly grown as single species or in mixtures with cereals or grasses. As an alternative cropping strategy, mixtures of legumes for forage have been developed in Serbia. This novel approach can be applied in many other temperate regions of Europe. This chapter provides an overview of these cropping systems, their use and their development. Carefully designed mixtures of forage crop species offer advantages over the component species grown separately. These advantages include higher yield, enhanced weed control and reduced soil erosion. In addition, the use of legumes in forage mixtures has benefits for feed quality due to the high protein content of the legume. This chapter examines the use of annual legumes mixed with perennial legumes to boost firstyear yields in particular. Our research has shown that an annual forage legume can provide a yield benefit when sown as the companion crop during the establishment phase of a perennial legume. This research also shows that including field pea as a companion crop significantly increased overall dry matter yields and reduced weeds in red clover stands. Similar research is in progress for the establishment of lucerne (Medicago sativa L.) and sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia Scop.). We also examined the intercropping of annual temperate legumes with each other for forage production, and found that all mixtures out-yielded their components grown as pure stands. The evidence in the literature that explains this is reviewed.

This article is one out of 15 book chapters. All chapters of the book are available on the Hub.

Ćupina, B., Mikić, A., Krstić, Ð., Vujić, S., Zorić, L., Ðorđević, V. and Erić, P. (2017). Mixtures of legumes for forage production. In: Murphy-Bokern, D., Stoddard, F. and Watson, C. (Eds.).  Legumes in cropping systems. CABI.

  • Branko Ćupina, Aleksandar Mikić, Ðorđe Krstić, Svetlana Vujić, Lana Zorić, Vuk Ðorđević and Pero Erić
  • CABI
  • 2017
  • In Europe, legumes are mostly grown as single species or in mixtures with cereals or grasses. As an alternative cropping strategy, mixtures of legumes for forage have been developed in Serbia. This novel approach can be applied in many other temperate regions of Europe. This chapter provides an overview of these cropping systems, their use and their development. Carefully designed mixtures of forage crop species offer advantages over the component species grown separately. These advantages include higher yield, enhanced weed control and reduced soil erosion. In addition, the use of legumes in forage mixtures has benefits for feed quality due to the high protein content of the legume. This chapter examines the use of annual legumes mixed with perennial legumes to boost firstyear
    yields in particular. Our research has shown that an annual forage legume can provide a yield benefit when sown as the companion crop during the establishment phase of a perennial legume. This research also shows that including field pea as a companion crop significantly increased overall dry matter yields and reduced weeds in red clover
    stands. Similar research is in progress for the establishment of lucerne (Medicago sativa L.) and sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia Scop.). We also examined the intercropping of annual
    temperate legumes with each other for forage production, and found that all mixtures
    out-yielded their components grown as pure stands. The evidence in the literature that
    explains this is reviewed.


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    Mixtures of legumes for forage production
  • 2017. Mixtures of legumes for forage production. Legume Hub. https://www.legumehub.eu

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Authors: Branko Ćupina, Aleksandar Mikić, Ðorđe Krstić, Svetlana Vujić, Lana Zorić, Vuk Ðorđević and Pero Erić
Acknowledgement: Legume Futures has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant No. 245216.

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