In the world of farming, finding smart and efficient ways to grow more food is crucial. Intercropping – the practice of growing different crops together in the same area – is one of the major techniques gaining global attention due to its unlimited potential for high and improved yields alongside the conservation of space and resources. By following a few simple principles, intercropping can help farmers increase yields, save resources, and make more money.
In this week’s blog, we will explore 5 major ways to correctly engage in intercropping, we hope that this inspires you to rightly engage in the process and it leads you to a bountiful harvest.
Ready? Let’s go!
Combine only compatible crops
Choosing the right crops is highly essential for successful intercropping. When crops have different characteristics that complement each other, they can thrive side by side without fighting for resources. For instance, a deep-rooted crop (e.g., Cassava) can be intercropped with a shallow-rooted one (e.g., Potato) to efficiently use soil nutrients and water across different depths.
Pair plants that are natural control agents for pests and diseases
By growing different crops together, the spread of pests and diseases can be genuinely curbed on a farmland as the diversity can make it harder for them to find their favourite plants. Some crops even repel pests or act as decoys thereby reducing the need for chemical usage and ensuring environmentally friendly protection. For this reason, it is not advisable to plant potatoes with tomatoes as they are quite susceptible to the same disease (blight) thus increasing the chances and rate of infestation within the farm.
Plant slow-growing crops with fast-growing ones
Always endeavour to plant slow-growing crops close to fast-growing ones. This is so that when the fast-growing crops are harvested, the slow-growing ones will have enough space to develop and not have their yields compromised by the fast-growing ones.
Take advantage of intercropping to improve soil fertility
Different crops have different needs for nutrients. By growing crops with diverse nutrient requirements, farmers can maximize the use of nutrients and minimize waste. For example, planting legumes with non-legumes can improve soil fertility by raising the concentration of nitrogen. Similarly, crops like beans or peas, can take nitrogen from the air and give it back to the soil, making it richer and healthier.
Make sure to properly space intercropped plants
Do not plant the crops too close to one another as it can foster the easy movement of pests from one plant to another thus reducing crop yields. Also, wherever possible, select plants for physical support. Beans (Cowpea) and yam crops can twirl around corn or cassava thus ensuring efficient use of farmland.
Intercropping is a simple and effective way for farmers to grow more food, save resources, and protect the environment. By taking note of the above-listed principles, you will be able to increase their harvest and protect your farmland.
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