Intercropping is an agricultural practice whereby at least two species are cropped together during a significant period of their growth.
Intercropping aims at using more efficiently the available resources by promoting complementarity between species in order to increase the products’ production on a given surface of land and quality (e.g. level of proteins of a cereal), but also to limit diseases, pests and weeds pressure.
Intercropping is used to produce grain (for example wheat-peas or triticale-faba beans) or forage (for example a forage mixture of vetch and oat). In some cases only one of the species is harvested (rapeseed when associated with a frost-susceptible legume or corn sown under a forage cover, that could be harvested later). Finally, intercropping can be used for the production of services as in the case of multi-species intermediate crops to fulfil the cumulative functions of green manure and nitrate trap.
In an agroecological approach, companion plantings are an agronomic lever which can be used to diversify rotations and reduce the use of inputs and their negative impacts on the environment but also to increase resilience to hazards.
References to explore
Acte du colloque CIAG “Associations végétales”. 2014. Innovations Agronomiques. Volume 40. 131p.
Arvalis-Infos.fr. Semer du maïs sous un couvert de légumineuse. Site web consulté le 12 avril 2017.
Carrefours de l’Innovation Agronomique (CIAG). 2014. “Associations végétales“. École supérieure d’agriculture (ESA) d’Angers. Site web du colloque CIAG consulté le 12 avril 2017.
Terre Inovia. Conduites particulières : colza associé. Site web consulté le 12 avril 2017.