Effects of Mixed Cropping on a Soil Nematode Community in Honduras


  • L. E. Powers
  • R. McSorley
  • R. A. Dunn


Nematode-resistant tropical legumes are effective in reducing populations of plant-parasitic nematodes when used in rotation systems. Mixed cropping is a common practice of many small farmers in Central America, but little is known about the effects of tropical legumes on nematode communities under these systems. To examine the effects of intercropping on the nematode fauna associated with squash (Cucurbita pepo) and cucumber (Cucumis sativa) in Honduras, two field experiments were conducted to compare nematode density and diversity in soil under cucurbits grown as a monocrop with that in soil under cucurbits intercropped with alfalfa (Medicago sativa) or hairy indigo (Indigofera hirsuta). A parallel series of field tests compared soil nematode communities associated with a cucurbit monocrop and a cucurbit intercropped with marigold (Tagetes patula), which may decrease nematode populations through the production of toxic root exudates. Among all four tests, over a period of 90 days, there were no consistent differences in densities of various nematode genera or trophic groups in intercropped versus monocropped plants, nor were there consistent differences in community diversities among treatments. Key words: agroecology, cropping system, ecology, intercropping, mixed cropping, nematode, nematode community.