Intercropping is the cultivation of two or more crops simultaneously on the same field. It also means the growing of two or more crops on the same field with the planting of the second crop after the first one has completed its development. The rationale behind intercropping is that the different crops planted are unlikely to share the same insect pests and diseased-causing pathogens and to conserve the soil.
Types of intercropping practices
Mixed or multiple cropping is the cultivation of two or more crops simultaneously on the same field without a row arrangement.
Relay cropping is the growing of two or more crops on the same field with the planting of the second crop after the first one has completed its development.
Row intercropping is the cultivation of two or more crops simultaneously on the same field with a row arrangement.
Strip cropping is the cultivation of different crops in alternate strips of uniform width and on the same field. It has two types; contour strip cropping and field strip cropping. Contour strip cropping follows a layout of a definite rotational sequence and the tillage is held closely to the exact contour of the field. Field strip cropping has strips with uniform width that follows across the general slope of the land.
- Reduces the insect/mite pest populations because of the diversity of the crops grown. When other crops are present in the field, the insect/mite pests are confused and they need more time to look for their favorite plants.
- Reduces the plant diseases. The distance between plants of the same species is increased because other crops (belonging to a different family group) are planted in between.
- Reduces hillside erosion and protects topsoil, especially the contour strip cropping.
- Attracts more beneficial insects, especially when flowering crops are included the the cropping system
- Minimizes labor cost on the control of weeds. A mixture of various crops gives often a better coverage of the soil leaving less space for the development of weeds.
- Utilizes the farm area more efficiently.
- Results in potential increase for total production and farm profitability than when the same crops are grown separately.
- Provides 2 or more different food crops for the farm family in one cropping season.