Interactions between spring wheat (Triticum aestivum ssp. vulgare L.) and undersown Persian clover (Trifolium resupinatum L.) depending on growth stage and plant density

Maria Wanic, Monika Myśliwiec, Magdalena Jastrzębska, Marzena Michalska


A pot experiment was conducted in the years 2010–2012. The competitive interactions between spring wheat and undersown Persian clover, depending on plant density have been established. The plants were grown in a mixture and in pure sowing at a higher density (according to the rules of proper agricultural practice) and at a density reduced by 20%. Based on measurements of dry matter in the aboveground parts and roots conducted at the wheat growth stages (BBCH) such as: leaf development (12–14), tillering (21–23), stem elongation (31–32), inflorescence emergence (54–56), and ripening (87–89), calculations of indicators such as: relative yield, relative yield total, competitive balance index and relative efficiency index, were performed. Competition between spring wheat and Persian clover continued from the wheat tillering stage until the end of vegetation. The strongest interactions were at the stem elongation stage (the plants competed for 95% of the growth factors), while at the end of vegetation the competition decreased slightly (it concerned 85% of the resources). The aboveground parts influenced one another with higher intensity than the roots. This was visible particularly well during the inflorescence emergence stage, during which the plants accumulated only 8% of the resources in the aboveground parts, while 89% was accumulated in the roots. Wheat proved to be the stronger competitor for the growth factors. It reduced by more than twice the increase in the biomass of Persian clover from tillering until the end of vegetation. In the mixture, the relative growth rate of the aboveground parts of clover was higher than in the case of wheat, while the growth rate of the roots was similar for both species. Plant density had no significant impact on the intensity of mutual interactions.


spring wheat; Persian clover; growth stages; aboveground parts; roots; competition indicators

Full Text:



Blaser BC, Gibson LR, Singer JW, Jannink JL. Optimizing seeding rates for winter cereal grains and frost-seeded red clover intercrops. Agron J. 2006;98:1041–1049. http:/

Jaskulska I, Gałęzewski L. Aktualna rola międzyplonów w produkcji roślinnej i środowisku. Fragmenta Agronomica. 2009;26(3):48–57.

Blackshaw EE. Nitrogen fertilizer, manure and compost effects on weed growth and competition with spring wheat. Agron J. 2005;97:1612–1621.

Gaudin ACM, Westra S, Loucks CES, Janovicek K, Martin RC, Deen W. Improving resilience of northern field crop systems using inter-seeded red clover: a review. Agronomy. 2013;3:148–180.

Holland JM. The environmental consequences of asopting conservation tillage in Europe: reviewing the evidence. Agric Ecosyst Environ. 2004;103:1–25.

Känkänen H, Eriksson C. Effects of undersown crops on soil mineral N and grain yield of spring barley. Eur J Agron. 2007;27:25–34. http:/

Raimbault BA, Vyn TJ. Crop rotation and tillage effects on corn growth and soil structural stability. Agron J. 1991;83:979–985.

Unger PW, Merle F. Cover crop effects on soil water relationships. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. 1998;53(3):200–207.

Michalska M, Wanic M, Jastrzębska M. Konkurencja pomiędzy jęczmieniem jarym a grochem siewnym w zróżnicowanych warunkach glebowych. Cz. II. Intensywność oddziaływań konkurencyjnych. Acta Scientiarum Polonorum Agricultura. 2008;2:87–99.

Sobkowicz P, Podgórska-Lesiak M. Ocena oddziaływania jęczmienia uprawianego w mieszance z pszenżytem lub grochem w zależności od dawki nawożenia azotem. Fragmenta Agronomica. 2009;26(1):115–126.

Picard D, Ghiloufi M, Saulas P, de Touronnet S. Does undersowing winter wheat with a cover crop increase competition for resources and is it compatibile with high yield? Field Crops Res. 2010;115:9–18.

Treder K, Wanic M, Nowicki J. The intensity of competitive interactions between spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L. Emend. Fiori et. Paol) and spring barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) under different fertilization conditions. Acta Agrobot. 2008;61(2):195–203.

Wanic M, Jastrzębska M, Kostrzewska MK, Treder K. Competition between spring barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) and Italian ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum LAM.) under different water supply conditions. Acta Agrobot. 2013;66(3):73–80.

Zając T. Porównanie wybranych cech morfologicznych i produkcyjności gatunków lucerny w zależności od doboru roślin ochronnych. Zeszyty Problemowe Postępów Nauk Rolniczych. 2007;516:291–301.

Płaza A, Gąsiorowska B, Makarewicz A, Królikowska M. Plonowanie ziemniaka nawożonego wsiewkami międzyplonowymi w integrowanym i ekologicznym systemie produkcji. Biuletyn IHAR. 2013;267:71–78.

Zarea M, Ghalavad A, Goltapeh EM, Rejali F. Effect of clovers intercropping and earthworm activity on weed growth. J Plant Prot Res. 2010;50(4):463–469.

Sobkowicz P. Konkurencja międzygatunkowa w jarych mieszankach zbożowych. Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Akademii Rolniczej; 2003. (Zeszyty Naukowe Akademii Rolniczej we Wrocławiu. Rozprawy; vol 458).

Sheaffer CC, Gunsolus JL, Jewett JG, Lee SH. Annual Medicago as a smother crop in soybean. Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science. 2002;188(6):408–416.

Thorsted MD, Olesen JE, Weiner J. Width of clover strips and wheat rows influence grain yield in winter wheat/white clover intercropping. Field Crops Res. 2006;95:280–290.

Carof M, Tourdonnet S, Saulas P, Le Floch D, Roger-Estrade J. Undersowing wheat with different living mulches in a no-till system (I): yield analysis. Agronomy for Sustainable Development. 2007;27:347–356.

Semere T, Froud-Williams RJ. The effect of pea cultivar and water stress on root and shoot competition between vegetative plants of maize and pea. J Appl Ecol. 2001;38:137–145.

Wanic M, Myśliwiec M. Changes in spring wheat (Triticum aestivum ssp. vulgare L.) and Persian clover (Trifolium resupinatum L.) biomass under the influence of plant competition and density. Acta Agrobot. 2014;67(4):125–134.

Snaydon RW. Replacement or additive designs for competition studies? J Appl Ecol. 1991;28:930–946.

Wilson JB. Shoot competition and root competition. J Appl Ecol. 1988;25:279–296.

Pietkiewicz S. Wskaźnikowa analiza wzrostu. Wiad Bot. 1985;29(1):29–42.

Myśliwiec M, Wanic M, Michalska M. Response of spring wheat to the growth with undersown of Persian clover under controlled conditions. Acta Scientiarum Polonorum Agricultura. 2014;13(3):29–44.

Kraska P. The effect of soil extracts from a monoculture of spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) grown under different tillage systems on the germination of seeds. Acta Agrobot. 2011;64(1):79–90.

Księżak J. Effect of root excretions from spring cereal seedlings on seed germination of field pea (Pisum sativum L.) and common vetch (Vicia sativa L.). Acta Scientiarum Polonorum Agricultura. 2010;9(2):7–17.

Andersen MK, Hauggaard-Nielsen H, Ambus P, Jansen ES. Biomass production, symbiotic nitrogen fixation and inorganic N use in dual and tri-component annual intercrops. Plant Soil. 2004; 266: 273–287.

Fukai S, Trenbath BR. Processes determining intercrop productivity and yields of component crops. Field Crops Res. 1993;34:247–271.

Bergkvist G. Effect of white clover and nitrogen availability on the grain yield of winter wheat in three-season intercropping system. Acta Agric Scand B Soil Plant Sci. 2003;53(3):97–109.

Faget M, Nagel K, Walter A, Herrera JM, Jahnke S, Schurr U, et al. Root-root interactions: extending our perspective to be more inclusive of the range of theories in ecology and agriculture using in-vivo analysis. Ann Bot. 2013;112(2):253–266.

de Kroon H. Ecology: how do roots interact? Science. 2007;318:1562–1563.

Bergkvist G, Stenberg M, Wetterlind J, Båth B, Elfstrand S. Clover cover crops under-sown in winter wheat increase yield of subsequent spring barley – effect of N dose and undersown grass. Field Crops Res. 2011;120:292–298.

Ofori F, Stern WR. Cereal-legume intercropping systems. Advances in Agronomy. 1987;41:41–90.

Schmidt O, Curry JP. Effects of earthworms on biomass production, nitrogen allocation and nitrogen transfer in wheat-clover intercropping model systems. Plant Soil. 1999;214:187–198.

Wanic M, Myśliwiec M, Orzech K, Michalska M. Nitrogen content and uptake by spring wheat and undersown Persian clover depending on plant density. J Elem. 2016;21(1):231–246.

Bulson HAJ, Snaydon RW, Stopes CE. Effects of plant density on intercropped wheat and field in an organic farming system. J Agric Sci. 1997;128:59–71.