Sorghum inter-cropping with Pigeonpea

Sorghum (Sorghum bicolour) is a staple cereal grown in both rainy and post-rainy seasons in the semi-arid and arid parts of India on marginal and low fertile soils. It is also an important source of green and dry fodder for animals. Being a widely row spaced and short to medium duration crop (90-120 days) it provides opportunity for growing intercrops for better use of natural resources. Intercropping cereal with a pulse crop not only produces higher yields per unit area and time, but also provides nutritional security, economic benefits as well as soil nutrition. Sorghum intercropped with pigeon pea is generally practiced in many sorghum growing areas extending from Tamil Nadu to Maharashtra. The extent of sorghum vs. pigeonpea which gives higher benefit: cost ratio under different agro-techniques has been worked out by the DSR. The sorghum equivalent yield under different varieties of sorghum and extent of sorghum with pigeonpea is presented in the Table 1.

Table 1. Sorghum equivalent yield and benefit: cost (B: C) ratio in sorghum + pigeonpea intercropping system as influenced by sorghum genotypes (Mean of 4 locations: Coimbatore, Palem, Dharwad, Indore)

Cropping system Sorghum equivalent yield (kg/ha) B:C ratio
CSH16+Pigeonpea(PP) (2:1) 6536 3.83
CSH23+PP (2:1) 5895 3.35
CSV15+PP (2:1) 6441 3.62
SPV1616+PP (2:1) 6172 3.50
Local+PP (2:1) 6413 3.47
CSH16 sole 2749 2.54
CSH23 sole 2385 2.26
CSV15 sole 2486 2.43
SPV1616 sole 2553 2.44
Local sole 2550 2.53

(Local genotypes: Coimbatore-CO (S) 28; Dharwad-DSV 6; Indore-JJ1022)

The sorghum genotypes vary in their growth behaviour, canopy development and maturity durations. This may affect the growth and development of pigeonpea in the intercropping system. The highest return combination of CSH 16 in two rows / units followed by pigeonpea in single row / unit has been tested at various locations and observed the highest benefit: cost ratio (3.83). It is also observed that the duration of sorghum does not interfere with the growth of pigeonpea and the crop residue of pigeonpea incorporated in the field enhances the soil health and nutrition for subsequent crops. It is also observed that the infestation of pod borer in pigeonpea is reduced due to harbouring and nourishing of the predator namely Trichogramma spp., when intercropped with sorghum. Intercropping of sorghum reduces wilt incidence in pigeonpea. Hence, the pigeonpea growth bearing and productivity will be enhanced and the farmers realize the economic returns from red gram. It may be pertinent that this technology encouraged in large scale in the dry land agriculture scenario by the local governmental agencies will enhance the pulse improvement mission. In this direction it is suggested that “sorghum intercropping pigeon pea” farmers supported in a similar way along with “pigeonpea” growers with the required subsidy, loan, MSP, etc. it will help improving the dry land productivity as a whole and help realize increase in pulse production.

Dr. J.S. Mishra, Principal Scientist (Agronomy)