Effects of Intercropping Cowpeas with Maize and Phosphorous Levels on Growth and Yields of Cowpeas in Meru County, Kenya

  • Joshua Marube Omundi Kenya Methodist University
  • David Mushimiyimana Kenya Methodist University
  • Mwaoria Mugambi Kenya Methodist University


Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. Walp) is a legume that is grown for various uses Humans consume it as grain or leaf vegetable and as fodder by livestock. It has high nutritive value and high palatability. It is widely produced in sub-Saharan Africa as a source of income. It is drought tolerant and can suitably be used as an intercrop in an intercropping system. The low yield of cowpea among smallholder farmers due to declining soil fertility has increased the need for site specific fertilizer recommendation. Land fragmentation and reduced arable land makes intercropping of cereals and legumes inevitable. A field experiment was conducted at Kianjai ward in Tigania West Sub County of Meru County during the March - May rain season of 2015 to investigate the effects of intercropping cowpeas with maize and four different levels of phosphorous on growth and yields of cowpeas. The treatments were sole cowpeas, sole maize, sole cowpeas planted with (0 kg/ha, 25 kg/ha, 50 kg/ha and 75 kg/ha SSP) and cowpeas intercropped with maize at (0 kg/ha, 25 kg/ha, 50 kg/ha and 75 kg /ha SSP). The design of the experiment was a Randomized Complete Block Design (RCBD) with four replicates. The results show that with mean plant heights of 41.56 cm, 42.43 cm, 43.00 cm and 45.03 cm respectively for 0, 25, 50 and 75 kg/ha of SSP, plant height at maturity were significantly affected by both fertilizer levels and cropping system (p<0.05). The number of pods and cowpeas grain yields were significantly also significantly affected (p<0.05). Sole cowpeas recorded the tallest plants, highest number of pods. The mean grain yields for 0, 25, 50 and 75 kg/ha of SSP were 400 kg, 496.88 kg, 593 kg and 699.88 kg respectively with 75 kg/ha. All the Land Equivalent Ratios for intercropping system were greater than one (LER>1) thus showing that intercropping was beneficial. Intercropping cowpeas and maize at 75 kg/ha phosphorous gave the highest Land Equivalent Ratio. It is recommended that in a cowpeas-maize intercropping system application of 75 kg/ha should be adopted. More work should be done to determine effects of intercropping cowpeas with cereal crops other than maize.

Keywords: Maize, cowpeas, intercropping, Tigania.

Author Biographies

Joshua Marube Omundi, Kenya Methodist University

Department of Agriculture; School of Science and Technology, Kenya Methodist University

David Mushimiyimana, Kenya Methodist University

Department of Agriculture; School of Science and Technology, Kenya Methodist University

Mwaoria Mugambi, Kenya Methodist University

Department of Agriculture; School of Science and Technology, Kenya Methodist University


Abayomi YA, Ajibade TV, Samuel, O.F., & Sa' adudeen, B.F. (2008). Growth and yield responses of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp) genotypes to nitrogen fertilizer (N.P.K.) application in the Southern Guinea Savanna zone of Nigeria. Asian Journal of Plant Sciences 7: 170-176. DOI: 10.3923/ajps.2008.170.176

Adeleke, M. A., & Haruna, I. M. (2012). Residual nitrogen contribution from grain legume to the growth and development of succeeding Maize crop.

Adeoye, G. O., Sridhar, M. K. C., Adeoluwa, O. O., & Akinsoji, N. A. (2005). Evaluation of naturallydecomposed solid waste from municipal dump sites for their manorial value in southwest Nigeria.

Dahmardeh, M., Ghanbari, A., Syahsar, B.A., & Ramrodi, M. 2010. The role of intercropping maize (Zea mays L.) and cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L.) on yield and soil chemical properties. African Journal of Agricultural Research5(8):631-636.

El Naim, A. M., & Jabereldar, A. A. (2010). Effect of plant density and cultivar on growth and yield of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. Walp). Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, 4(8), 3148-3153.

Haruna, I.M, Aliyu L, Olufajo O.O, & Odion EC. (2011). Growth of sesame (Sesamum indicum L.) as influenced by poultry manure, nitrogen and phosphorus in samara, Nigeria.

Haruna, I.M. & Usman, A, 2013. Agronomic Efficiency of Cowpea Varieties (Vigna ungulate L.Walp) under Varyimg Phosphorous Rates in Lafia, Nasarawa State, Nigeria. Asian Journal of Crop Science, 5:209-215.

Ijoyah, M. O. (2012). Review of intercropping research on cereal- vegetable based cropping system, Scientific Journal of crop Science, 1(3), 55-62.

Jaetzold, R., Schmidt, H., Hornetz, B., & Shisanya, C. "Farm management handbook Vol II, Part C, East Kenya." (2006). Subpart C1, Eastern Province. Ministry of Agriculture, Nairobi Kenya.

Magani, I.E. & Kuchinda, C. (2009).Effect of phosphorus fertilizer on growth, yield and crude protein content of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata[L.] Walp) in Nigeria. J. Appl. Biosci 23: 1387 - 1393.

Ministry of Agriculture (2002). Field technical handbook.

Ndakidemi, P.A. & F.D. Dakora, 2007. Yield components of nodulated cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) and maize (Zea mays) plants grown with exogenous phosphorus in different cropping systems. Aust. J. Exp. Agric., 47: 583-589.

Nkaa, F., Nwokeocha, O. & Ihuoma, O. (2014). Effect of phosphorus fertilizer on growth and yield of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata). IOSR J. Pharm. Biol. Sci 9: 74-82.

Nyoki, D., & Ndakidemi, P. A. (2014). Effects of Bradyrhizobium japonicum inoculation and supplementation with phosphorus on macronutrients uptake in cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp). American Journal of Plant Sciences, 5(04), 442.

Nziguheba, G.,Zingore S., Kihara J.,Merckx, R.,Njoroge S., Otinga A., Vandamme, E, & Vanlauwe, B.(2016). Phosphorous in small holder farming systems of sub Saharan Africa: implications for agricultural intensification.Nutr.Cycl.Agroecosyt.104 321-340. 10.1007/s10705-015-9729-y

Odhiambo, J. J., & Mag, V. N. (2008). An assessment of the use of mineral and organic fertilizers by smallholder farmers in Vhembe district, Limpopo province, South Africa. African Journal of Agricultural Research, 3(5), 357-362.

Pule-Meulenberg, F., Belane, A.K., Krasova-Wade, T., & Dakora, F.D. (2010). Symbiotic functioning and bradyRhizobia biodiversity of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. Walp.) in Africa. BMC Microbiology, 10:89–100.

Sullivan, P. (2003). Intercropping principles and production practices. Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas Publication. Retrieved from http://www.attra.ncat.org

Thayamini, H. S., & Brintha, I. (2010). Review on Maize based intercropping. Journal of Agronomy, 9(3), 135-145. http://dx.doi.org/10.3923/ja.2010.135.145.

Vesterager, J. M., Nielsen, N. E., & Hogh-Jensen, H. (2008). Effects of cropping history and phosphorus source on yield and nitrogen fixation in sole and intercropped cowpea- maize systems.

Wakeel, A., Farooq, M., Qadir, M., & Schubert, S. (2011). Potassium substitution by sodium in plants. Critical reviews in plant sciences, 30(4), 401-413.
How to Cite
Omundi, J. M., Mushimiyimana, D., & Mugambi, M. (2020). Effects of Intercropping Cowpeas with Maize and Phosphorous Levels on Growth and Yields of Cowpeas in Meru County, Kenya. Journal of Agriculture, 4(1), 19-30. Retrieved from http://stratfordjournals.org/journals/index.php/journal-of-agriculture/article/view/592