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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Early interspecific dynamics, dry matter production and nitrogen use in Kernza (Thinopyrum intermedium) - alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) mixed intercropping

Li, Shoujiao; Barreiro, Ana; Jensen, Erik Steen; Zhang, Yingjun; Martensson, Linda-Maria Dimitrova


The global interest in growing perennial grain crops such as intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium) (Kernza) for production of food and feed is increasing. Intercropping Kernza with legumes may be a sustainable way of supplying nitrogen to soil and associated intercrop. We determined the competitive interactions between intercropped Kernza (K) and alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) (A) under three inorganic nitrogen (N) rates N0, N1, N2 (0, 200, 400 kg ha(-1)) and five species relative frequencies (SRF) (100%K:0%A, 75%K:25%A, 50%K:50%A, 25%K:75%A and 0% K:100%A) in mixed intercrops (MI) in a greenhouse pot experiment. After 11 weeks of growth. Kernza dry matter yield (DM) and N accumulated (NACC) were low, but alfalfa DM and NACC high at 0 kg N ha(-1). 200 and 400 kg N ha(-1) fertiliser application increased the competitive ability (CA) of Kernza and reduced the CA of alfalfa. SRF had large impacts on alfalfa DM, NACC and NFIX only at 0 kg N ha(-1) fertiliser, and insignificant impacts on Kernza at all N fertiliser levels, indicating that adjustment of SRF may not be an effective way to modulate the interspecific competition of Kernza. Further research on the other factors that influence the interspecific competition are warranted.


Kernza; alfalfa; intercropping; interspecific interactions; competition; relative yield total

Published in

Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section B - Soil and Plant Science
2020, Volume: 70, number: 2, pages: 165-175