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    Intercropping is an agriculture system used to enhance the efficiency of resource utilization and maximize crop yield grown under environmental stress such as salinity. Nevertheless, the impact of intercropping forage legumes with annual cereals on soil salinity remains unexplored. This research aimed to propose an intercropping system with alfalfa (Medicago sativa)/sea barley (Hordeum marinum) to explore its potential effects on plant productivity, nutrient uptake, and soil salinity. The experiment involved three harvests of alfalfa and Hordeum marinum conducted under three cropping systems (sole, mixed, parallel) and subjected to salinity treatments (0 and 150 mM NaCl). Agronomical traits, nutrient uptake, and soil properties were analyzed. revealed that the variation in the measured traits in both species was influenced by the cultivation mode, treatment, and the interaction between cultivation mode and treatment. The cultivation had the most significant impact. Moreover, the mixed culture (MC) significantly enhanced the H. marinum and M. sativa productivity increasing biomass yield and development growth under salinity compared to other systems, especially at the second harvest. Furthermore, both intercropping systems alleviated the nutrient uptake under salt stress, as noted by the highest levels of K+/Na+ and Ca2+/Mg2+ ratios compared to monoculture. However, the intercropping mode reduced the pH and the electroconductivity (CEC) of the salt soil and increased the percentage of organic matter and the total carbon mostly with the MC system. Intercropped alfalfa and sea barely could mitigate the soil salinity, improve their yield productivity, and enhance nutrient uptake. Based on these findings, we suggest implementing the mixed-culture system for both target crops in arid and semi-arid regions, which further promotes sustainable agricultural practices. © 2024. The Author(s).


    Amal Guerchi, Wiem Mnafgui, Cheima Jabri, Meriem Merghni, Kalthoum Sifaoui, Asma Mahjoub, Ndiko Ludidi, Mounawer Badri. Improving productivity and soil fertility in Medicago sativa and Hordeum marinum through intercropping under saline conditions. BMC plant biology. 2024 Mar 01;24(1):158

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    PMID: 38429693

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