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Influence of cereal legume rotation on Striga control and maize grain yield in farmers fields in the northern Guinea Savanna of Nigeria
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On-farm trials were conducted in 2001, 2002, and 2003 in the northern Guinea savanna of Nigeria to evaluate integrated Striga hermonthica control measures under farmermanaged conditions. These included intercropping a Striga-resistant maize variety with cowpea for 3 years and also cropping this maize in rotation with legume trap crops - soybean and cowpea for 1-2 two years. Intercropping Striga-tolerant maize variety, Acr. 97TZL Comp. 1-W, with cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L.) consistently reduced Striga infestation in maize relative to continuously cropped sole maize over the threeyear period. Maize grain yield was lower in the intercrop than in the sole maize plot probably due to competition from cowpea. However, because of the high value of cowpea in the intercrop, crop value for this system was higher than sole cropped maize. Legume-maize rotation reduced Striga infestation by 35% after one year of legumes in the rotation and by 76% after two years of legumes in the rotation. Soybean was more effective in reducing Striga infestation and also gave higher maize grain yield than cowpea. The rotation of these two legumes with maize had clear advantage over continuously cropped maize. Farmers should therefore be encouraged to adopt the introduction of grain legumes into the cereal cropping systems of the Nigerian savanna.