the advantages and disadvantages associated with intercropping

Despite the fact that intercropping has ancient roots, it is only more recently that institutional attention has been paid to this growing method. The majority of formal research to date focuses on large-scale, rural production. Findings show that intercropping has both advantages and disadvantages, which are described in the table below.


– – – 

  • yield advantage
  • space maximization
  • pest deterrent and weed suppression → decreased pesticide and herbicide use
  • the potential for natural nitrogen use (less runoff)
  • reduced erosion via increased ground cover increased biomass production
  • informal crop insurance (reduced risk of complete crop failure)
  • competition for space, nutrients and sunlight → potential decreases in output
  • integrated management efforts essential
  • higher sowing and harvesting costs (non-machine) → higher labor costs
  • extensive planning required

However, the majority of issues related to intercropping can be overcome with proactive management, albeit harvesting without a machine is a great burden to producers, making the integration of intercropping on a large-scale difficult. Nonetheless, new research in this area is being conducted, and innovative, modular equipment is being developed in order to better facilitate the use of intercropping techniques.


Lithourgidis, A.; Dordas, C.; Damalas, C. A.;  Vlachostergios, D.N. (2011, April) Annual intercrops: An alternative pathway for sustainable agriculture. Australian Journal of Crop Science, 5(4) Retrieved from
Mousavi, S. R.; Eskandari, H. (2011, January). A General Overview on Intercropping and Its Advantages in Sustainable Agriculture. Applied Environmental Biological Sciences. 1(11). Retrieved from
Sullivan, P. (1998, November). Intercropping Principles and Production Practices. Agronomy Systems Guide.  Retrieved from
Wiley, R.W. and Rao, R.M. (1980, April) A Competitive Ratio for Quantifying Competition Between Intercrops. Experimental Agriculture, 16(02). Retrieved from

Zeman, F. (2012) Metropolitan sustainability: understanding and improving the urban environment. Oxford, Cambridge, Philadelphia, Delhi: Woodhead Publishing Limited