Modulated Maize/ Velvet Bean Intercrop

2010/2011 rainy season gave us the chance to do some very interesting trials with velvet bean (Mucuna pruriens). The velvet beans, seed and all, were left in the feild from last years velvet bean crop in order to hold onto the nutrients accumulated. With the first rain velvet beans gernimated in the residues. Maize was then planted amongst the growing beans. Maize geminated and grew along side the velvet bean. Weeding was done in the maize row only to keep the beans from overwhelming the maize. No compost or other fertilizer was used. The beans were then controlled by slashing with a sharp grass slasher. This was done when the maize was around 1ft/30cm tall. The resulting decomposition of the slashed material and the remaining nutrients in the gernimated seed released nutrients which rapidly became available to the growing maize. No further weed control was necessary and maize yeild was calculated to be 7t/ha equivelent. The beans which survived the slashing or gernimated soon after grew along side the maize, with maize plant acting as a ‘trellis’. As the maize started to mature and the leaves dries up, the velvet bean grew and started to set seed. The feild is ready for next years velvet bean fertilized maize crop……