Inter-cropping / Mixed cropping

Inter-cropping / Mixed cropping

This is the planting of a minor crop (quick growing crop) alongside a major crop e.g. beans in bananas.

NB:   Mixed cropping is the growing of many crops intercropped or in different plots of pure stands on the same piece of land at the same time.

Advantages of intercropping

Total yields per unit area are higher than in mono cropping.

There is better and full utilization of labour.

It controls weeds since little space is left.

Safe guards against famine since the crops mature at different times.

There is maximum utilization of soil nutrients.

Legumes in the mixture fix nitrogen into the soil.

Interrupts the spread of pests and diseases.

The risk of having total crop failure is reduced.

Farmers get a balanced diet.

Some crops act as nurse crops to the other crops.

Disadvantages of intercropping

Too close spacing leads to entiolation and poor growth of crops.

There is competition for water, nutrients, light, space.

It hinders use of machines in operations e.g. weeding, harvesting etc.

Late maturing crops are damaged while harvesting the early maturing crops.

There may be build up of pests and diseases.

Sometimes, fertilizers may be wasted on the crops in the mixture which are less profitable.

Chemical control of pests and diseases is difficult.

There is wastage of fertilizers especially when one of the crop is uneconomical.