Green manures are a promising alternative for achieving the sustainable production of maize in the face of low soil fertility and increasingly long canicule periods, particularly in rainfed systems associated with the reproduction of local agrobiodiversity. However, it is necessary to investigate what are the advantages and disadvantages associated with different species of native and exotic pulse, as well as their overall contribution to the sustainable production of maize landraces. In order to do so, we followed the MESMIS method to assess five species of pulse (three native and two exotic) grown with maize in two plots with different soil conditions. This was done in the seasons of 2017 and 2018 the municipality of Villa de Zaachila, Oaxaca, a site with remarkable biological, agricultural and cultural diversity. A fully randomized complete block design was implemented with 11 treatments and three repetitions in the two plots. The output variables of the experiment were: land equivalence ratio, interspecific aggressiveness, content of soil organic matter, decomposition rate, plant survival rate and plant dry biomass. We also evaluated quantitative or qualitative indicators of cost, adaptability and contribution to food security. For all the possible maize-pulse combinations, except for one, polyculture outperformed maize and pulse monocultures. Exotic pulses (Crotalaria junscens spp. and Dolicho lablab) had a better performance in biomass, reincorporation of organic matter and possible nitrogen fixation, as well as greater resistance to drought in the second cycle. The native pulses (Phaseolus vulgaris and Phaseolus coccineus), however, had a greater acceptance and economic output and are important for the food security in our study site. Our results provide quantitative and qualitative elements to design combined schemes of green manures associated with maize that would help tackle current challenges regarding maize productivity, food security and response to climate change.