Maize-Soybean Intercropping To Increase Soybean Yield In Pakistan

Maize being the highest yielding cereal crop in the world. It has significant importance for countries like Pakistan, where rapidly increasing population has already out stripped the available food supplies. Maize ranks third most grown crop in the world.

By : Binish Ali, Ibrar Hussain, Syed Zeeshan Haider and Fayaz Hussain

Introduction

Maize:

It is grown an area of more than 118 million hectares with an annual production of about 600 million metric tons in the world. In Pakistan, maize is the fourth largest grown crop after wheat, cotton and rice. The area under maize here is over one million hectares and production 3.5 million metric tons. Punjab, KPK, Sindh and Baluchistan contributes 39%, 56%, 5% and 3% of the total area under maize respectively.
At present, maize is grown on an area of about 1.3 million hectares in Pakistan. In this way, the nation’s maize yield can be confirmed and greatly increased. More importantly, Pakistani farmers can harvest considerable soybean meanwhile. That will definitely produce considerable economic benefit for Pakistani people.

Soybean:

Soybean (Glycine max L.) belongs to Leguminosae family. It is originated from china. It is a summer crop. It ranks first among the oilseed crops in world. Brazil’s 2019/20 soybean production is estimated at a record 125 million metric tons (mmt) and the area under its cultivation is about 36.9 million hectares (mha),. Total estimated yield is about 3.39 tons per hectare. This year Brazil is also expected to overtake the United States as the world’s leading soybean producer. US is producing 96.615 million metric tons(mmt) , Argentina 53.000 million metric tons(mmt) and China 17.100 million metric tons(mmt).

During the marketing year (MY) 2018/19 Pakistan purchases of imported soybeans were estimated to reach at 2.0 million metric tons (MMT). Soybean imports during MY 2019/20 are projected at 2.5 (MMT).
It is an very important crop due to high content of protein and oil. It has high nutritional value. Soybean products are directly used for human consumption including soymilk, soya sauce, protein extracts and concentrates. It is a biggest source for production of vegetable oil and oilseed meal for animal feeding. It contains 36-40 proteins, 26% carbohydrates, 18-24% fat and 18% micro and macro elements in seed.
In Pakistan, soybean is a negligible crop because badly affected by soil and environmental conditions that’s why yield is low. Its yield potential is very high but its actual yield is very low than rest of the world. There are many factors limiting soybean production at farmers farm such as improper planting time, climatic factors, low germination percentage poor quality seed and irrigation shortage problems. Exploring the soybean varietal and agronomic flaws can help us to bridge this gap. Quick germination and even crop stands are essential for obtaining higher yield levels

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Maize and Soybean Intercropping:

China has introduced an intercropping technology that can enhance the yield of maize and soybean in Pakistan. This technology uses maize-soybean strips and is set to be implemented all over Pakistan and in other countries Africa and Europe such as Ghana and Sweden. The increased maize yields and supplemental harvest of soybean will not only reduce the need to import it for domestic use, but also improve Pakistan’s food security.
At the first time there were some doubts about the technology’s performance because many local farmers had not seen this kind of farming model before. “As long as they follow our technical instructions to plant the two crops, this technology is sure to work out,” Yang said with confidence. “Actually many countries are researching into intercropping. But across the globe our maize-soybean strip intercropping may be the only mature intercropping system that is well-equipped with all-around technologies of field configuration, fertilization, pest control, etc. and promoted on such a massive scale.” Furthermore, this technology has realized mechanization from sowing seeds, crop management to harvest. It should be noted that after 18 years’ research and development, in February, 2020, Yang Wenyu’s maize-soybean strip intercropping technology was included in China’s “No. 1 Central Document” of top-priority by CPC Central Committee and the State Council of the People’s Republic of China to be promoted vigorously and widely in more regions of China.

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Intercropping:

Professor Yang Wenyu, of Sichuan Agricultural University, Chengdu developed the intercropping technology in which both crops maize and soybean will protect each other by planting them in the same field. When intercropping is used with these two crops, they enhance each other’s growth and yield good quality. Maize gives shade to soybean and minimizes the effect of high temperature while the soybean’s nitrogen fixation stimulate growth in the maize crops.

Implementation in Pakistan:

In Pakistan, four demonstrations have been arranged distinctly in Bahawalpur, Chakwal, Islamabad and Layyah. Yang Wenyu’s team is collaborating with Pakistan’s National Agriculture Research Center and PMAS-Arid Agriculture University to make high-yield demonstrations. “High-yield demonstrations in different regions will prove the technology’s value and receive local people and government’s recognition,” said Yang. They are also working on technical parameters especially for Pakistan. As agriculture is among the six key socio-economic fields under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) cooperation, they believe the completion of maize-soybean strip intercropping technology will carry more benefits to Pakistani and Chinese people in the future.

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Pakistan’s Crop Yields:

According to Wenyu, Pakistan can increase its yield by using maize-soybean strip inter-cropping technology, the yield of maize can reach upto 10,500 kg per hectare with an additional increase in soybean production from 1,350 to 1,650 kg/ha in Pakistan’s irrigated areas. In rain-fed areas, the yield of maize and soybean can reach upto 6,000 kg/ha and 4,500 to 1,500 kg/ha respectively.

Benefits to Agriculture:

These advancements would ideally happen in the 1.3 million acres of land currently used to plant maize crops only. At present Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world and the highest population rate. Therefore, limited area of land that can be used for agriculture. This is why planting two crops in the same field can increase production along with other benefits. The country’s agricultural areas are also opulent with sunlight which encourages the growth of soybean crops. This increase in domestic production would result in a considerable economic advantage for the farmers of Pakistan


Authors:
Binish Ali, Ibrar Hussain, Syed Zeeshan Haider and Fayaz Hussain supervised by Dr. Haroon Zaman Khan Department of Agronomy University of Agriculture Faisalabad

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