Effects of inter-cropping amaranth with common beans, green grams and cow peas on the growth and grain yield of Amaranth in Kitui central Sub County
Kiambi, James Gitonga
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Amaranth is an important crop owing to its highly nutritious grains and leaves. The leaves have high vitamins and calcium levels while grains are rich in proteins. Amaranth flour is used to fortify other flours due to its highly digestible proteins. Some industrial and medicinal properties have also been associated with amaranth leaves and grains. Green grams, common beans, and cowpeas are important sources of proteins from plant. This makes them cheap and valuable substitutes for meat and other animal proteins.In this study, amaranth (Amaranthus hypochondriacus), KAM 01 was intercropped with green gram (Vigna radiata) N-26, common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) KB9, and cowpeas (Vigna unguiculata) M66 to compare and establish their effect on the growth and grain yields of amaranth. Pure stands of amaranth and the three legumes were also established for purposes of comparison. The study was carried out during the March May rainy season of the year 2017. Randomized complete block design (RCBD); replicated four times was used to test treatment combinations. Treatment means were differentiated at 95% confidence (P<0.05) upon carrying out of the analysis of variance. Post-hoc tests were carried out using Fishers' Least Significant Difference (LSD). Land Equivalent Ratio (LER) was used to assess the amaranth-legumes intercropping advantages relative to sole cropping. This study found that intercropping amaranth with green grams common beans, and cowpeas had significant effect (P<0.05) on grain yields and the above ground biomass. Amaranth grain yields were least (1,088 kg/ha) when it was intercropped with common beans and highest (1,741 kg/ha) when it was intercropped with green grams. The highest above-ground biomass for amaranth was recorded in amaranth-green grams intercrop (4,159 kg/ha) while common beans intercrop gave the least (2,241 kg/ha) biomass. The highest harvest index in amaranth (0.37) was recorded in amaranth-common bean intercrop followed by green gram intercrop (0.34), while Cowpeas intercrop had the least harvest index of 0.29. Land equivalent ratio (LER) was greater than one unit in all the treatments, indicative of intercropping advantage relative to sole cropping. Amaranth-cow pea inter-crop had the highest LER (1.95) followed by green gram inter-crop (1.90) while common bean inter-crop had the least LER at (1.67), respectively. It was concluded that inter-cropping amaranth with legumes was better than sole cropping and that green gram was the most suitable legume to inter-crop with amaranth in Kitui central sub county. It was therefore the one recommended for use by farmers.