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Abstract

A field experiment was conducted under irrigated conditions in the highlands of Madagascar to assess the potential of intercropping Italian ryegrass with common vetch for improving yield and quality of forage. Seed proportions studied were ryegrass-vetch 100:0; 0:100; 50:33; 50:50; 50:66; 75:33 and 75:66. Mixtures were sown in alternate rows and the sowing rates of pure stands of ryegrass and vetch were 20 and 60 kg per hectare, respectively. The results showed that all mixtures achieved yield advantage over pure stands with the highest land equivalent ratio value for dry matter yield obtained from the mixture of 75:66 (1.47) followed by 50:50 (1.35). Slight increase of crude protein content and protein digested in the small intestine when rumen-fermentable nitrogen is limiting (PDIN) content were obtained from mixtures compared with pure stand of ryegrass. Vetch rate in dry matter yield of mixtures increased with the increase of vetch seed proportion and ranged from 31 to 44%. Agressivity and competitive ratio indices showed that ryegrass was slightly competitive than vetch. Intercropping Italian ryegrass with common vetch at the seed proportions of 75:66 or 50:50 could be a more sustainable alternative cropping to alleviate dry season feed shortages of dairy livestock in the highlands of Madagascar.

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