Gas exchanges and water-use efficiency of Nopalea cochenillifera intercropped under edaphic practices
The Nopalea forage cactus (Nopalea cochenillifera) is the main xerophilic species cultivated in Brazil, highlighted as a compatible biological element with the semiarid environment. However, studies on its physiological aspects are still scarce. In this context, an experiment was performed in the Pendência Experimental Station, belonging to the State Company of Agricultural Research of Paraíba (EMEPA-PB), municipality of Soledade, state of Paraíba, Brazil, aiming to evaluate the gas exchanges and the water-use efficiency of intercropped Nopalea Cochenillifera plants in the soil under different edaphic managements. The treatments were distributed in randomized blocks, with three replications in a 2 × 5 factorial scheme, corresponding to the soil without and with mulch and five types of cultivation of Nopalea forage cactus, in monoculture and intercropped with forage watermelon, millet, sorghum, and buffelgrass. The analyzed variables were: stomatal conductance, transpiration rate, net photosynthesis rate, and internal CO2 concentration, besides the instantaneous water-use efficiency, intrinsic water-use efficiency, and instantaneous carboxylation efficiency. The use of soil mulch satisfactorily increased the photosynthetic rate of the forage cactus; this type of practice can aid in the productive development of the crop in semiarid zones, whereas the intercropping with buffelgrass and forage watermelon stimulated photosynthesis and the water-use efficiency.
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