Intercropping is growing crops of multiple products in a specific area. Using the property for more than one crop serves dual purposes such as adding structural support along with providing needed nutrients as well as weed and pest control.
Careful consideration and control is required when intercropping. Considerations such as soil content, the amount of water needed for each crop and the amount of sunlight needed for each crop. An example of intercropping are planting tall crops that provide shade for shorter crops as well as growing a shallow-rooted crop along with a deep-rooted crop. An example of a tropical multi-tier system is where coconut occupies the upper tier, banana the middle tier, and pineapple, ginger, or leguminous fodder, medicinal or aromatic plants occupy the lowest tier.
A cropping system must meet requirements to become an intercrop. Time is of the essence when considering which system to use.
* Mixed intercropping: seeds are mixed together before planting.
* Row cropping: growing crops in alternate rows with another crop.
* Alley cropping: growing crops between rows of trees.
* Strip cropping: planting strips or multiple rows of one crop alternating with strips or multiple rows of another crop.
* Relay cropping: planting in succession of another crop, often times during the fruiting period of the first crop. The first crop is then harvested, making room for the second crop to fully mature. Pairing a fast growing crop with a slow growing crop will also increase the yields for space used.
Image Caption: Pepper intercropped with coffee in Colombia’s southwestern Cauca department. Credit: Neil Palmer/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)