Nitrogen contribution from forage legumes in maize farming system in West Timor, Indonesia

Evert Hosang1, Jacob Nulik1, Debora Kanahau1, Yandri Abi1 and Lindsay Bell2 

1 NTT Assessment Institute for Agriculture Technology, Naibonat, Indonesia, Email:

2 CSIRO, 203 Tor St, Toowoomba Qld 4350, Australia.


Maize is the important staple food crop cultivated in West Timor, Indonesia. However, maize productivity in West Timor is low (2.7 t/ha in 2010) compared to the national average (4.2 t/ha in 2010), due to low use of fertilisers. Integrating forage legumes into maize cropping systems has the potential to assist in improving maize nutrient supply and also provide high quality forage for livestock. The experiment was conducted on the island of West Timor, Indonesia to evaluate biomass production of herbaceous forage legumes in West Timor environment and to quantify potential nitrogen contribution from forage legumes in to maize in a rotation farming system. Butterfly pea, and Centro (both varieties) produced the most biomass (>6 t DM/ha), estimated shoot N was >150 kg N/ha and had the largest impacts on growth of a subsequent maize crop. Growing legumes and retaining their biomass on the field contributed significant nitrogen supply to the following maize crop, increasing N uptake by 30-50 kg/ha. Grain yields of a following maize crop were increased by 50% (1.4-1.6 t/ha) where legume was cut and removed, and by 90% (2.6-2.8 t/ha) where legume biomass was retained.  This study has shown that Butterfly pea and Centro, can be used in legume-maize rotation farming system in West Timor to improve soil fertility and increase maize production.