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2.1: Origin and history Rice, a prime representative of family Gramineae, has been classified as a member of sub-tropic tribe Oryzineae under genus Oryza. Out of twenty five species in genus Oryza, only two are cultivated whereas the rest are categorized as wild species. Among cultivated, Oryza glaberrima is domesticated in West Africa whereas all American, Asian and European rice varieties belongs to Oryza sativa. Various genetic studies have revealed wild rice Oryza rufipogon as the wild ancestor of Asian rice (Londo et al., 2006; Huang et al., 2012). Due to perennial nature of O. rufipogon and annual growth habit of cultivated rice, some studies has proposed Oryza nivara (annually occurring type of O. rufipogon) as the most recent ancestor of present day cultivated rice O. sativa (Yamanaka, et al., 2003). There has been a long controversy and debate regarding origin and domestication of O. sativa. Dual occurrence of domestication for O. rufipogon has been reported as a result of which two main subtypes (O. sativa indica and O. sativa japonica) were evolved (Londo et al., 2006). Former one was domesticated to foothills of Himalayas whereas latter one was domesticated to China and Japan. Being the tropical crop, rice requires high temperature and humidity for its growth. Similarly, a genome wide study has revealed earlier domestication of O. sativa japonica from O. rufipogon and later development of O. sativa indica from crosses between O. sativa japonica and wild rice (Huang P. et al., 2012) whereas some researchers have presented contradicting statement and supported the view that cultivated rice O. sativa indica was developed from O. rufipogon through single occurrence of domestication (Huang X. et al., 2012). 2.2: Rice in Pakistan Rice is cultivated in more than 110 countries in the world and total rice production has crossed 700 million tons in 2011. Asians, being the largest producers, produce 90% of worlds rice and consume around 75% of it (Bhambhro, 2001; Anonymous, 2009). Indo-Pak subcontinent is among top rice growing areas in the world and tract of rice cultivation has been found at 37 different archeological sites including Mohenjodaro (Pakistan) and Gujrat, Rangpur, Lohal and Uttar Pradesh in India (Chang, 1967). In Pakistan, rice stands third largest crop after

wheat and cotton in terms of cultivation and second largest crop in terms of consumption after wheat. Rice also serves as cash crop by contributing 2.7% value added in agriculture and 0.6% in GDP of Pakistan (Ahmad et al., 2005). Rice was sowed on 2311 thousand hectares and produced 5541 thousand tons rice whereas rice of worth $3 billion was exported during 2011-12 from Pakistan (Govt. of Pakistan, 2013). Availability of diverse climatic and edaphic (soil related) conditions for rice in Pakistan has ever facilitated the cultivation of fine aromatic varieties as well as some IRRI varieties. Traditional rice cultivating areas are under the Kallar tract of Punjab whereas heat tolerant varieties are domesticated in Sindh and Balochistan and South of NWFP, and high altitude mountain valleys in Swat generally grow japonica rice (Anonymous, 2007). 2.3: Direct seeding Agriculture is considered as one of the main pillars in developing and maintaining the economy of almost half of the world but there are bunch of hurdles and challenges associated with todays agriculture leading towards declined total outcome which is far behind the potentials. Among these hurdles and challenges, limiting water resources (surface and ground water) and increasing water demands throughout the world due to changing climatic scenario, increasing population, industrialization and urbanization are of major concern (Hira, 2009; King, 2004). It has also been reported that along with other reasons, poor water management and its inefficient use are among major causes of water scarcity as well (Dinar, 2003). Asia is the largest and most populated continent by representing 60% of total world population. Rice is cultivated as staple food primarily in flooded conditions in most of Asian countries (Kukal and Aggarwal, 2003). The fact that rice crop uses a handful of worlds fresh water every year (Tuong and Bouman, 2003) has directed the scientific research towards getting a solution for declining surface and groundwater resources and enhancing water use efficiency without any significant decline in productivity of the crop. For the development of new resource conservation technologies in rice and assessment of their efficiency and reliability, important steps have been taken particularly in submerged and aerobic system of rice cultivation (Kukal et al., 2005; Humphreys et al., 2008). Rice cultivation usually revolves around traditional transplanting method in highly productive irrigated areas. Transplanting needs transfer of seedlings from nursery to a puddled field. In present day agriculture, transplanting is not economically suitable for the farmers as

along with plenty of water; it requires huge labour for uprooting the nursery, puddling rice field and transferring seedlings from nursery to puddled field. Water resources, both surface and underground, are becoming scarce day by day and availability of plenty of water for rice cultivation through transplanting method is not possible (Farooq et al., 2009a). Availability of labour in peak transplanting season of rice is also a big problem now a day, often resulting in an increase in labour costs. Huge labour and water requirements, and increasing labour costs has limited the farmers profit margins to an unsatisfactory level (Harrington et al., 1993; Pandey and Velasco, 1999). Hard pan development below the plough zone, soil texture compaction and limited soil permeability leading towards water losses through percolation and evaporation are also among problems associated with transplanting method of rice cultivation and these also affect germination and initial growth of following crop which is mostly wheat (Sharma et al., 2003). In addition to transplanting method, rice can also be grown through direct seeding method which differs from transplanting method in the sense that it involves sowing the seeds directly into the field without transplanting the seedlings from nursery. Direct seeding in rice has also been further categorized into three subtypes i) dry direct seeding ii) wet direct seeding and iii) water seeding on the basis of seed condition, seeding method, environmental and soil conditions, and type of agro-economical regions. Dry direct seeding method is in practice in most of the rainfed areas but exceptionally, some irrigated areas, having less water availability, also rely on this method of rice cultivation. In this method, dry seeds are sown in dry aerobic soil through broadcast or drill method of sowing. On the other hand, wet direct seeding method requires pre-germinated seeds to be sown in puddled soil (either aerobic or anaerobic) using different seeding methods and it is in practice in well drained irrigated areas. Water seeding method involves sowing of dry or pre-germinated seed in anaerobic standing water through broadcast method. It is in practice in irrigated areas with good land leveling or areas which are facing the problem of red rice (Balasubramanian and Hill, 2002; Thakur et al., 2004). Due to the declining water resources and limiting water availability, dry seeding method has been established as prime priority of farmers for rice cultivation in developing countries since 1950s (Pandey and Velasco, 2005). During last decade of 20th century, a shift from transplanting method to direct seeded method of rice cultivation has been observed in Asia, in general, and in countries in Southeast Asia, in particular (Pandey and Velasco, 2002). The most probable

reasons behind this shift were, decreasing water resources, increasing labour costs and shortage of labour during peak transplanting season which leads towards delay in rice cultivation (Chan and Nor, 1993). Out of total rice grown worldwide, only 23% rice is cultivated through direct seeding method (Rao et al., 2007). Southeast Asian rice growers prefer direct seeding over wet seeding only in dry season particularly due to better water control in dry season but dry season rice cultivation only contributes to less than 25% in this part of world. Generally, in Asia, dry seeding method is widely adopted only in rainfed and flood-prone territories, whereas, irrigated areas always prefer wet seeding for rice cultivation (Luat, 2000; Kim et al., 2001; Azmi et al., 2005; de Dios et al., 2005). Australia, Europe and United States are used to both dry and wet seeding methods for rice cultivation (Gianessi et al., 2002; Ntanos, 2001; Pratley et al., 2004). Aerially sown rice is most common in Australia (Pratley et al., 2004), whereas, dibbling and broadcasting are general rice cultivation methods found in Africa (Ampong-Nyarko, 1996). Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela and some Caribbean countries also grow rice on saturated soils through direct seeding method (Fischer and Antigua, 1996). Before the adaptation of transplanting method in rice cultivation during 1970s, direct seeding method has remained in practice for several decades over a huge area worldwide (Pandey and Velasco, 2005). Now a day, due to water shortage and labour associated issues, direct seeding is again appearing as a best substitute for transplanting method and becoming popular among farmers. Even though several research studies have revealed benefits of direct seeding over transplantation method of rice cultivation, the proceeding in adaptation of direct seeding method is quiet slow (Farooq et al., 2008; Jehangir et al., 2005). Advantages of direct seeding over transplanting method of rice cultivation cannot be overlooked (Singh et al., 2005a). Direct seeded crops grow quiet faster, less problematic to plant growth, require less labour for cultural practices and utilizes water with better efficiency as compared to transplanted rice crop (Bhushan et al., 2007; Jehangir et al., 2005). In addition, direct seeding methods are quiet easy to carry out as well as favourable for mechanization as compared to transplanting methods of rice cultivation (Khade et al., 1993). Crop duration comparison between direct seeded and transplanted rice has revealed that direct seeded ones usually reaches reproductive stage in less time (show early flowering) resulting in short duration crop than transplanted ones (Farooq et al., 2006a, b; Santhi et al., 1998). Less methane emissions

and seven to ten days early maturation of direct seeded rice as compared to transplanted one facilitating early sowing of next crop (which is mostly mostly wheat) is another important beneficial aspect of direct seeded rice for farmers (Balasubramanian and Hill, 2002; Pandey and Velasco, 1999). Direct seeded rice do not face growth reduction due to injuries as usually observed in transplanted rice during transplantation process which usually accounts for delays in growth and later contributes to delayed maturity and increased vulnerability to drought (Tuong et al., 2000). Less water demand during whole growing season, in general, and for land preparation, in particular, also suggest dry seeding method as more beneficial over transplanting method (Bouman and Tuong, 2001). As transplanted rice and following crop (which is mostly mostly wheat) require entirely different soil conditions to grow, direct seeded rice also help to narrow down the edaphic (soil related) conflicts between rice and wheat cultivation and enhance sustainability of rice wheat cropping system (Farooq et al., 2008; Ladha et al., 2003; Singh et al., 2005a, b). Cost effectiveness, economical utilization of resources and less labour requirement are beneficiary aspects of direct seeding method which admire farmers to adopt this method for rice cultivation. These aspects are also the reasons behind gradual increase in area under direct seeded rice cultivation over last decade. Grain yield is an important parameter to evaluate total outcome of rice crop. A bunch of studies have revealed that grain yield obtained from direct seeded rice is relatively less as compared to transplanted one (reviewed in Farooq et al., 2011). On the other hand, different studies have also shown that with the maintenance of good cultural practices, equal or even higher grain yield can be achieved from direct seeded rice as compared to transplanted one under same climatic conditions (reviewed in Farooq et al., 2011). For an example, comparatively higher yield (3 t ha-1) from direct seeded rice than from transplanted rice (2 t ha-1) has been reported when both grown under same climatic conditions. Characteristics such as increased number of panicles, more 1000 kernel weight and decreased sterility were credited to define the increase in yield of direct seeded rice over transplanted rice (Dingkuhn et al., 1991; Sarkar et al., 2003). To determine the influence of direct broadcasting and nursery transplantation methods on total outcome of rice, different semi-dwarf rice varieties (i.e., IR-56, IR-58, IR-64 and IR-29732-143-3-2-1) were sown and results have shown that one of the cultivars, IR-58, gave considerably higher yield output when directly broadcasted as compared to

nursery transplanted (Dingkuhn et al., 1991). Similarly, increased number of panicles, increased plant height and leaf weight resulting in more dry matter but also increased number of sterile spikelets has been observed in direct seeded rice when compared with transplanting method of rice cultivation (Sarkar et al., 2003). Todays agricultural research is focusing on economical and conserved use of resources (i.e., irrigation water, power, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides etc.) without any decline in total production of the crop. Along with equal or improved yield, 12-60% water conservation has been observed when rice crop was directly seeded on beds as compared to nursery transplantation in puddled-flooded field (Gupta et al., 2003). Similarly, a slight decrease in yield was reported in conditions when rice crop was directly seeded in flat fields (Balasubramanian et al., 2003; Gupta et al., 2003). While comparing effect of various cultivars, seeding techniques, seed rates and soil types on Basmati rice, researchers have noted remarkably 44% higher grain yield from direct drilled compacted rice field as compared to un-compacted field (Yadav et al., 2007). During onfarm trials in India, 20% yield reduction was observed in direct seeded rice when compared with transplanted rice, however, yields from direct seeded rice, as good as achieved from transplanted rice, have also been attained during these on-farm trials when adequate weed control was maintained (Johnson et al., 2003). Similarly, comparable yield has also been obtained from direct seeded and transplanted rice in Philippines when good weed management techniques were taken into account (Tabbal et al., 2002). Dry and wet season direct seeded rice have given higher and comparable benefit to cost ratios as compared to dry and wet season transplanted rice respectively (Ali et al. 2006). Increased total productivity and economically improved output (depending upon higher yield, total dry matter and benefit: cost ratio) from hybrid rice has been reported when grown in direct seeded rice based cropping system as compared to transplanted one (Gangwar et al., 2008). An independent study has also reported 10% increase in yield achieved from direct seeded rice over transplanted rice (Gupta et al., 2003) whereas similar yields from puddled transplanted and direct seeded on puddled or non-puddled flat beds have also been observed (Bhushan et al., 2007). Rice cultivation cannot be decreased as half of the world is depending on it but cultivation method needs an abrupt change as direct seeding method is more resource (i.e., water, labour, capital etc.) conservative by efficiently utilizing these resources and its also more

reliable for mechanization as compared to transplanting method (Bhuiyan et al., 1995). By demanding less labour and by requiring labour during periods when labour costs are relatively low, direct seeded rice play a significant role in saving capital (Pandey and Velasco, 1999). In addition, direct seeded rice also saves water (Dawe, 2005). For instance, significant decrease of 35-57% in total water requirement have been observed in India when rice was grown through direct seeding in non-puddled field having nearly saturated soils (Sharma et al., 2002; Singh et al., 2002). On the other hand, small plot trials of direct seeded rice have shown 20% less water requirement as compared to transplanted rice (Gupta et al., 2003). Furthermore, direct seeded rice on raised beds have shown 12-60% decrease in water use along with increase in yield up to 10% as compared to transplanted rice (Gupta et al., 2003). Cultivar selection depending upon land conditions and sowing method is an important attribute to increase the yield in rice crop. Cultivars having fewer tillers, less panicle weight and thick column and roots are best suited for direct seeding of rice (Won et al., 1998). In addition, early maturing, short duration cultivars with considerable level of drought tolerance are also suitable for direct seeding (Gines et al., 1978). Transplanting shock badly affects transplanted rice but avoiding this in case of direct seeded rice has resulted in improved plant density and biomass than transplanted rice (Dingkuhn et al., 1990 and 1991). Early sowing of cultivars, especially, photoperiod insensitive ones can assure the escape from late season drought in rice. So, new high yielding varieties should be developed from photoperiod insensitive genotypes to better adapt direct seeding of rice (Mackill et al., 1996). Comparatively lower yield under field conditions and poor crop establishment in direct seeded rice are the main hurdles in slowing down the process of its wide spread adaptation. One of the prime reasons behind lower yield and poor crop establishment in direct seeded rice is ineffective weed control (Moody, 1982; Caton et al., 2003; Rao et al., 2007). Improper weed management can lead towards estimated loss of 10% decrease in total grain yield but actual scenario can differ depending upon level of weed infestation, cultivar grown and cultural practices (Rao et al., 2007). Other studies have revealed grain yield loss up to 53% and 74 % in wet seeded and dry seeded respectively or from 68 % to 100% for Aus rice when sown directly (Ramzan, 2003; Mamun, 1990). In direct seeded rice, more than 50 different weed species has been reported to be responsible for decrease in yield (Gianessi et al., 2002) and direct seeded fields have been found more diverse in terms of weed species as compared to transplanted rice

(Tomita et al., 2003). If weeds are managed well, yields comparable with those of transplanted rice can achieved from direct seeded rice as well. In addition to weeds, lodging is also among the factors which play role in declining yield in direct seeded rice as it affects direct seeded rice more as compared to transplanted rice (Berry et al; 2004). In order to adapt direct seeding method of cultivation in rice on a large scale, varieties with characteristics like early maturation, short-duration, short stature, deep root system and lodging resistance should be developed (Ikeda et al., 2008) as direct seeding method has more potential to benefit the grower as compared to transplanted rice. 2.4: Intercropping in rice In order to fulfill worlds food demands by fixing the problem of food insecurity, and to better utilize the declining agricultural land (due to industrialization and urbanization) and available resources, present day agriculture and traditional cultivation systems are in need of some revolutionary changes which will help the mankind in longer run. One of these proposed revolutionary changes is the conversion of sole cropping system to multicropping (inter/relay cropping) which involves the cultivation of more than one crop on the same piece of land during same time period. Intercropping not only boosts the total outcome of the same piece of land but it also ensures proficient use of resources like land, labour, water, time and capital (Trenbath, 1986; Saleem et al. , 2000; Nazir et al. , 2002). In addition, intercropping systems are involved in setting up a rivalry of nutrient uptake between crops which eventually result in increased output from same piece of land (Ahmad & Saeed, 1998; Maingi et al. , 2001). Furthermore, efficient pest control has also been observed in intercropped fields as compared to sole cropping system (Epidi et al. , 2008). Last but not the least; intercropping has also found contributing towards sustaining soil fertility of the land (Khan, 2000; Bhatti, 2005; Wahla, 2008). Focusing on growing main filed crops (cereals and cash crops) has brought decrease in cultivation of fodder and oilseed crops over past years and has resulted in inflation in the prices of fodder, forage and oilseeds. Importance of forage legumes such as maize, mungbean, pigeonpea, ricebean, sesbania etc. cannot be overlooked as these crops support the growers in a lot of ways such as by facilitating good fodder for animals resulting in increased milk production, by enhancing soil fertility through nitrogen fixation process and by benefitting the farmers in very short time span (Ahmad et al., 2007). As above mentioned forage legumes compete with rice for their growing season, intercropping of these crops in direct seeded rice is

most beneficial solution for fulfilling domestic needs and for maintaining or even getting higher total output from same piece of land. Comparison of different rice based intercropping systems (having forage maize, sesbenia, mungbean, ricebean, cowpea and peagonpea as intercrops in rice field where rice was grown in 75cm spaced 4 row strip fashion) with sole rice has revealed rice + maize as best among all of these intercropping systems. Although rice yield was decreased as compared to sole rice cropping system but 37.32% more net benefit and 2244% marginal rate of return was achieved from rice + maize intercropping system as compared to sole rice cultivation. Dominance and other sensitivity analyses considered rice + maize and rice + cowpea intercropping system as cost-effective over sole rice cropping plan. On the other hand, maximum growth reduction in rice plants was observed when intercropped with sesbenia due to vigorous vegetative growth of sesbenia and all this led towards 25.87% rice grain yield reduction as compared to sole rice cropping system (Jabbar et al., 2010). While comparing the same intercropping systems, researchers have reported rice + maize system as most beneficial in terms of net profit but no improvement in soil organic matter and residual nitrogen was observed in rice + maize intercropping systems. On the other hand, soil nitrogen level was found maximally increased in rice + sesbenia intercropping system (Jabbar et al., 2010). In Bangladesh, due to poor performance of Broadcast Aus (B. aus) rice, a lot of efforts were made to enhance its profitability and one of the prominent efforts was to intercrop B. aus rice with maize (Shams and Quddus, 1990). Researchers observed highest land equivalent ratio and best total output from rice + maize intercropping system, when maize was planted at 1.52.5m row to row and 25 cm plant to plant distance, and rice was intercropped in it (Satter, 1991). A field experiment determining the effects of maize population and nitrogen levels on positivity of rice + maize intercropping system over sole rice and sole maize cultivation has illustrated that return above variable cost was always higher in case of rice + maize intercropping system. Furthermore, this return was independent of nitrogen levels applied and spacing between maize plants (Malaker et al., 2009). Comparison of sole rice cropping system (followed by Egyptian clover, lentil or wheat) with intercropping systems having maize, sesbania, mungbean, ricebean, cowpea and pigeonpea as intercrops in rice field and Egyptian clover, lentil and wheat as relay crops after the harvesting of rice has revealed that rice grain yield equivalent was highest in case of maize intercropped in rice when Egyptian clover was grown as relay crop. In all cropping

systems, Egyptian clover was appeared as best replay crop as compared to wheat and lentil. Improved soil organic matter and enhanced soil nitrogen levels were observed in all cropping systems having legumes as intercrops as compared to systems having intercrops other than legumes. Egyptian clover as relay crop also took part in boosting soil organic matter and nitrogen levels efficiently as compared to lentil while wheat relay cropping either decreased or did not add organic matter or nitrogen in the soil (Jabbar et al., 2011). In order to determine the fate of sesbania as intercrop in rice, two year research trial has reported that sesbania can successfully grow in rice as intercrop. They detected a slight loss in yield of rice (with intercropped sesbania) as compared to sole rice but seed and stick received from sesbania compensated the loss and managed higher gross benefit. In addition, enhanced soil fertility and improved control of insects was also observed (Islam et al., 2002). While comparing three different intercropping systems (sesbania intercropped between two rows of rice, sesbania intercropped at two rows interval in rice and sesbania intercropped around the rice field) with sole rice and sole sesbania, researchers found considerable decrease in rice grain yield in all three intercropping systems. The system having sesbania intercropped between two rows of rice showed maximum decrease in rice yield but at the same time resulted in maximum rice grain yield equivalent as compared to other intercropping systems and sole rice. Likewise, the net benefits from all three intercropping systems were high as compared to sole rice cultivation and maximum was achieved by the system having sesbania intercropped at two row intervals, suggesting the importance of intercropping sesbania in rice (Rana et al., 2013). As mentioned above (in direct seeding part) that ineffective weed control in direct seeded rice always leads towards decline in proper crop establishment eventually decreasing the crop yield (Moody, 1982; Caton et al., 2003; Rao et al., 2007). A study evaluating and comparing the effects of intercropping sesbania, mulching with wheat residues and utilizing herbicides for weed control in direct seeded rice has determined that in order to control the weeds, intercropping sesbania is comparable with mulching wheat residues in direct seeded rice field (Singh et al., 2007). Sesbania has been used as green manure crop in transplanted rice since long ago. One of the studies based on comparing intercropping of sesbania in direct seeded rice with conventional method of growing sesbania before transplanting rice has revealed the beneficial effects of this green manure crop in direct seeded rice over transplanted one. Improvement in rice growth was observed after uprooting and burying the sesbania plants between rice rows. Increased rice grain

yield along with improved panicle weight was obtained in case of sesbania as intercrop in direct seeded rice rather than growing sesbania before transplantion of rice. In addition, utilization of intercropped sesbania for green manuring reduced the requirement of urea fertilizer upto 40 kg N ha-1 (Sharma and Ghosh, 2000). Later on, another study has illustrated intercropping sesbania in rice field as more suitable method over uprooting and burying of 40-50 days old sesbania two days prior to rice transplanting. Although the latter method gave more yield when top dressed with 30 kg N ha-1 but improved nitrogen uptake and enhanced utilization of nitrogen fertilizer has been observed in case of sesbania intercropping in rice (Bar et al., 2000). Evaluation of intercropping sesbenia in direct seeded rice for green manuring purpose (turned into soil 30 days after sowing) and its impact on rice-wheat cropping systems under different levels of urea application resulted in significant improvement in rice and wheat grain yields as compared to fields where no green manuring practices were carried out. This study suggested the role of intercropping sesbania in conserving soil fertility and enhancing nitrogen use efficiency in ricewheat cropping system (Yadav, 2004). Field experiment based on intercropping pigeonpea, maize, sesbania, mungbean, cowpea and ricebean in rice field has concluded that although the intercropping always leads towards decrease in rice grain yield but this loss is mostly better compensated by output from intercrops. In above mentioned field trial, researchers found maximum decrease in rice yield in case of maize intercropping followed by sesbania, mungbean, ricebean, cowpea, pigeonpea intercropping as compared to sole rice cultivation. On the other hand, maximum net profit associated with maize intercropping as compared to lowest net benefit from sole rice cultivation defended the significance of intercropping in direct seeded rice for the benefits of growers (Saleem et al., 2000). Another field experiment, based on comparison of intercropping forage maize, sesbania, mungbean and pigeonpea in 75 cm 4-row strip cultivated rice with sole rice cultivation, has observed maximum loss in rice grain yield in case of sesbania followed by pigeon pea and mungbean, and minimum loss in case of forage maize. Total rice grain yield equivalent was highest for maize intercropping system followed by cowpea, sesbania and mungbean intercroping as compared to minimum total rice grain yield equivalent recorded from sole rice cultivation (Ahmed et al., 2007). While comparing three different rice sesbania intercropping system with rice monocropping, researchers have not found any significant differences in terms of number of panicles, plant height and rice seed yield but greatest forage

production potential was associated with the intercropping system in which sesbania was grown as a border crop (Sexton et al., 2000). In order to study the impact of intercropping on grain yield and yield attributes of rice, evaluation of eleven different upland rice genotypes was carried out under two cropping systems (sole or intercropped with pigeonpea). Significant effects of intercropping and intercropping x genotype interactions on grain yield, spikelet fertility and panicle weight directed towards selection of genotypes best suited for intercropping (Ghauhan et al., 1994). During a quest of finding the advantages and disadvantages of intercropping legumes (soybean, greengram, blackgram and pigeonpea) in rice field under sandy loam soil conditions, researchers found that intercropping pigeonpea is most beneficial among all followed by soybean. Relatively good adaptivity of pigoenpea and soybean to these types of soils can be the possible reason behind this. Later on, improvement in soil fertility due to nitrogen fixation by leguminous crops led towards better performance of following Indian mustard crop (Banik and Bagchi, 1991). By taking into account two rice cultivars and two intercrops (pigeonpea and Stylosanthus hamata Taub), researchers proved pigeonpea as a better relay crop as compared to Stylosanthus hamata Taub when sown 30-35 days after rice sowing. Pigeonpea caused less decrease in rice grain yield along with production of considerable amount of biomass when compared with Stylosanthus hamata Taub (Akanvou et al., 2002). Different rice based intercropping systems (having forage maize, sesbania, mungebean, ricebean, cowpea and pigeonpea as intercrops), when compared with rice monocropping system, resulted in higher rice grain yields in terms of total rice grain yield equivalent and improved net benefits over sole rice cropping system. Although significant yield reduction from rice in intercropping system was observed during this study but increased net benefits over sole rice cropping indicated that intercrops compensated the loss in a very good manner (Jabbar et al., 2005). A study, conducted in Kenya, while examplifying the benefits of ricebean and cowpea intercropping in rice, illustrated the compatibility of one of the domestic rice varieties (NERICA 11) with both ricebean and cowpea, and suggested farmers to adopt intercropping single row cowpea in double row rice field. Researcher found this intercropping system highly productive and cost-effective against other systems such as; intercropping double row cowpea/ricebean in single row rice, intercropping double row cowpea/ricebean in double row rice, intercropping single row cowpea/rice in single row rice or intercropping single row ricebean in double row rice

(Ogutu et al., 2012). A study evaluating the effect of planting density and nitrogen application on rice-cowpea intercropping system has shown great association between high plant population and reduced yield in terms of number of panicles per plant and number of grains per panicle. In addition, high plant population also badly affect nitrogen uptake which has been observed higher in case of intercropping as compared to sole rice and sole cowpea cropping systems. Through proper maintenance of planting density, cowpea can be efficiently intercropped in rice to get more benefit from same piece of land as compared to sole cropping (Oroka and Omoregie, 2007). In order to get insight on impact of intercropping on controlling pest attack in upland rice; cowpea, eugsi melon and groundnut were intercropped at different population sizes in rice field as these crops have some pests in common with rice. Rice and groundnut intercropping system was found most promising in declining the stem borer and green stink bug attack as compared to control and other two intercropping systems (Epidi et al., 2008). In order to evaluate the role of blackgram in avoiding yield damages caused by weeds and competition between crop species in rice-legume intercropping system, various sole rice and sole blackgram cropping systems (different in terms of plant spacing and number of weeding) were compared with rice-blackgram intercropping systems (different in terms of plant spacing and number of weeding). Results from the study showed that rice-blackgram sown at 30 cm spacing after one hand weeding gave the maximum rice equivalent yield whereas rice-blackgram sown at 20 cm spacing gave best weed control without any weeding practices (Midya et al., 2004). While identifying the competitive capacity of cowpea, mungbean and groundnut when intercropped in direct seeded rice, researchers have found cowpea as three times more competitive as compared to rice. Although, the maximum grain yield was gained from rice sole cropping but intercropping mungbean in rice (2:2 row ratio) gave the maximum yield benefits. In addition, yield advantages associated with mungbean intercopping in rice (1:2 row ratio) and groundnut intercropping in rice (2:2 row ratio) were also closer to the highest yield benefit levels (Rajkhowa and Baroova, 2000). A study aimed to identify the impact of mungbean residues in rice mungbean intercropping system or rice monocropping system has demonstrated that mungbean residues did not significantly contribute towards different growth and yield parameters such as number of tillers, number of panicles, number of spikelets per panicle, leaf area index, thousand grain weight and harvest index but mungbean residues significantly

increased the rice grain yield over sole rice cropping system when no nitrogenous fertilizer application was done in both cases (Suriyakup et al., 2007). Symbiotic impact of Arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi (AMF) in mungbean is fully understood but its role in intercropping has not been well studied. Intercropping AMF inoculated mungbean and rice enhanced the formation of AMF in the roots of rice plants leading towards increased phosphorus uptake in rice. On the other hand, intercropping, along with AMF inoculation, improved phosphorus and nitrogen acquisition and enhanced nodulation percentage in mungbean which resulted in increased transfer of nitrogen from mungbean to rice leaves (Li et al., 2009). In another study, increase in AMF colonization in rice and mungbean roots was observed when intercropped as compared to sole cropping and this colonization resulted in improved nitrogen levels in roots and shoots of both crops due to improvement in nitrogen fixation capacity and increased iron contents in shoots and roots of mungbean only and suggested the importance of intercropping in enhancing the nutrition utlilization in rice (Tongjian et al., 2010). Crops like cluster bean and millet have never been studied as intercrops in rice cropping system but their beneficial aspects, in relation to intercropping, have been demonstrated in various other crops. For instance, cultivation of clusterbean as intercrop in cotton field has reported to boost the productivity by increasing the cotton yield up to 71% (Velmurugan et al., 2013). Intercropping millet in cowpea field has lead towards high benefit as compared to sole cropping (Dianger et al., 2004). Evaluation of intercropping of a millet cultivar in six different cowpea genotypes under four different sowing patterns (1:1, 2:1, 2:2, 4:2 cowpea to millet rows) has revealed that although there was a decrease in cowpea yield but millet compensated the loss most of the times. In addition, 4:2 row distribution between cowpea and millet was most beneficial among all sowing patterns (Mohammed et al., 2008). These results have revealed clusterbean and millets as good candidate crops to be considered as intercrops in rice intercropping systems. All the facts mentioned above support intercropping as one of the best solution to increase the output per unit area, to ensure efficient utilization of available resources and to implement resource conservation policies in almost all major crops, in general, and rice, in particular. In rice crop, initiation of intercropping forage legumes (which compete for growing season with rice) will revolutionize the agricultural scenario due to its multiple benefits; i)

enough availability of forage to fulfill demands, ii) increased net profit per unit area with same efforts and iii) increased soil fertility due to nitrogen fixation through leguminous nature of crops. In order to further improve the intercropping potential in rice crop, agricultural research should aim i) to develop specific varieties of different crops which will grow better when intercropped with rice, ii) to devise growing systems and patterns in relation to rice and intercrops, so that both crops can perform even better when intercropped and iii) to design even better resource conservation methods and policies in rice intercropping systems.