How to establish a row intercropping system?

Agrón. Cristino Alberto Gómez
19/06/2007
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Intercropping is the process in which more than one species are cultivated in the same time and space. Some of the objectives of intercropping are: to have a higher and diversified production; to have income from the agricultural system all the year; and to reduce the impact of some pests. There are many different types of intercropping, depending on the combination between the distinct species or varieties. One of the most known intercrop systems is the row cropping. In this article, the process to establish a row cropping will be explained.

First, the species or varieties to cultivate are chosen. They will be chosen according to the edaphoclimatic conditions of the terrain. Moreover, it is recommendable to combine plants from different taxonomic families to avoid the fast loss of the nutrients they will absorb, which would be very similar in both species if they are in the same family. Excellent results can be obtained by combining legumes with some other species. It is very important since the legumes fix nitrogen and, in this way, contribute to the other crop’s nutrition. It is also suggested to mix long and short roots crops because in this way the nourishment absorption is distributed around the soil profile.

Once the species have been selected, the soil is prepared in accordance with the characteristics of both species and with the planned design to the system. Individual alternate lines can be traced to plant one of the crops in each line. Another option is to make several lines of one crop and then one or several lines of the other one. It depends on the farmer’s objective and creativity. It is very important to consider the plants size and lifecycle, in order to space them out in proportion to their posterior growth.

In the last step of the intercrop establishment, the seeds or vegetative material of the selected crops are planted, and the system maintenance is continued until the harvest, ensuring that no crop is affected by the other. First, the holes are made in the yard. Second, seeds of one species are planted in the first line. Third, the seeds of the second species are planted in the line besides the first and then several lines alternately. Fourth, after planting, the row intercropping system must be monitored in order to prevent any antagonism between the crops. It is important for the reason that if one of the crops is very dominant, the development of the second one can be limited and its yield can be diminished because of the effect of the first.

In a nutshell, three basic steps are involved in the row intercropping process. At first, the species are chosen, in accordance with their particular characteristics. After that, the soil is prepared for the plantation, considering the selected species. Finally, the crops are planted, ensuring that they are not affected by one another. It is important to prevent yield loss and to obtain the expected results from both crops.

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