Aims: The cultivation of medicinal plants in intercropping with other species of agricultural use has been an alternative to make production sustainable in family farming. The objective of this work was to evaluate the growth, biomass production, and chemical composition of the essential oil of mint (Mentha x gracilis Sole) in intercropping with fruit species in an agroforestry system. This study was conducted as an important contribution to agroforestry management practices and to assist in deciding which intercropping option to use in this cultivation system. In particular, this information should facilitate the establishment of scientific intercropping systems, help maintain the sustainable use of agroforestry and provide a theoretical basis for the sustainable development of agriculture. Study Design: The experimental design was randomized blocks with four treatments, mint inter planted with citrus (Citrus sinensis L. Osbeck), bananas (Musa spp.), blackberries (Morus nigra), or Barbados cherries (Malpighia glabra). Place and Duration of Study: The experiment was conducted in the agroforestry located in the sector of Olericultura of the Federal University of Technology – Paraná (UTFPR), Brazil, in the period between November 2015 to February 2017. Methodology: We analyzed physiological and growth variables as light intensity, relative chlorophyll index, height, leaf area, biomass accumulation, essential oil content, oil production and chemical composition of mint in agroforestry. Results: The highest production of biomass (252.50; 249.31 g planta-1) and essential oil (135.42; 141.63 L ha-1) were obtained in the intercropping of mint with citrus and Barbados cherries, respectively, possibly due to the edaphic climatic conditions, such as greater light intensity, that favored the growth, production and chemical composition of the mint essential oil. Bananas and blackberries intercropped with mint were not beneficial for the growth and production of essential oils. Conclusion: The intercropping of mint with citrus and Barbados cherries resulted in higher growth, biomass accumulation and essential oil content and production. The major components of the essential oils were linalool (48.66; 49.87%) and carvone (18.30; 17.86%) with higher percentages in the intercropping of mint with citrus and Barbados cherries, respectively. The cultivation of mint by intercropping with fruit species such as citrus and Barbados cherries is an option to diversify the production of medicinal plants, making it sustainable.
Department of Agronomy, Federal University of Technology – Paraná, Campus Dois Vizinhos, 85660-000, Dois Vizinhos, Paraná, Brazil.
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