Performance of tropical legumes grown as understory of a eucalypt plantation in a seasonally dry area of the Brazilian Cerrado

Maria Luiza F. Nicodemo, Francisco H.D. de Souza, José Ricardo M. Pezzopane, João Carlos T. Mendes, Waldomiro Barioni Junior, Patrícia Tholon, Patrícia M. Santos


Nine tropical legumes were grown outside the canopy and in the understory of an 8-year-old Eucalyptus grandis stand in order to assess their seasonal production and forage quality for 4 evaluation periods. Incident photosynthetically active radiation in the understory was 18% of that outside the canopy. In the understory, production of Lablab purpureus, Centrosema schiedeanum, Clitoria ternatea, Pueraria phaseoloides, Alysicarpus vaginalis, Aeschynomene villosa, Estilosantes Campo Grande (Stylosanthes capitata + S. macrocephala), Calopogonium mucunoides and Arachis pintoi was <1 kg/ha/d for most samples. Even considering this low production, the large area available for animal production in forest plantations might justify the interest in legumes because of their high nutritive value. Lablab purpureus produced the greatest amount of dry matter in the understory in the establishment phase (12.1 kg/ha/d), but did not persist. It could be a suitable candidate for a cover legume species mixture to provide early growth. Centrosema schiedeanum developed rapidly and showed a high capacity for ground cover (>70%) and persistence, and had high nitrogen concentration, thus demonstrating good potential for protecting soils and promoting nutrient cycling in forest plantations. Another species with potential is A. pintoi, which established slowly but towards the end of the experiment showed moderate to high understory ground cover.

Keywords: Dry matter production, forage quality, shade, silvopastoral system.

DOI: 10.17138/TGFT(3)151-160

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