Dead Cover and Agronomic Characteristics of Cowpea

  •  Vilson de Souza Rocha    
  •  Ajax de Sousa Ferreira    
  •  Bruna Nogueira Leite    
  •  Carla Coelho Ferreira    
  •  Karla Gabrielle Dutra Pinto    
  •  Sara Cruz Pinheiro    
  •  Sônia Maria Figueiredo Albertino    


Dead cover, or mulch, consisting of plant residues, plays an important role for the success of diverse agricultural crops, working as an insulating layer protecting the soil from daytime temperature variations and maintaining the soil moist and rich in organic matter. Cowpea is a source of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Its importance in the North, Northeast and Midwest regions of the country is associated with economic and social aspects, since it is an important food for low-income populations, supplying their nutritional needs. This study was carried out under greenhouse conditions in Manaus, state of Amazonas, with the purpose of assessing the effect of different dead covers on the agronomic characteristics of cowpea cultivars. It consisted of a completely randomized design in a 4 × 4 factorial arrangement. The treatments comprised four cowpea cultivars (BRS Caldeirão, BRS Tumucumaque, BRS Guariba and BRS Tracuateua) and three species of cover plants (Brachiaria decumbens, Brachiaria ruziziensis and Mucuna pruriens) and one control treatment, without soil cover, in a total of 16 treatments, with four replications and two plants per experimental unit. Analysis of variance was applied to the data, and the means were compared by the Scott-Knott’s test at 5% probability level. The following characteristics were examined: number of pods per plant, pod length, number of seeds per pod, weight of shoot dry matter, and grain yield. Mulching provided better results for all characteristics assessed in the four cultivars when compared to the control. BRS Caldeirão is the recommended cultivar for the state of Amazonas and the other regions with similar edaphoclimatic characteristics (high air temperature, rainfall, air humidity, and low-fertility tropical soils) because it exhibited the greatest number of pods per plant, number of seeds per pod, shoot dry matter, and the highest average grain yield (Freire Filho et al., 2011; Souza et al., 2016).

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