Intercrop 2020

With one half drilled in November and the other drilled in April, this two part experiment offers an insight into multiple intercrop mixtures with the winter half focussing on different cereals while the spring half focusses on different legumes.

To have a look around the experiment, use the viewer below to drag around the 360 degree image of Intercrop 2020.

 
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The winter intercrop looks at the effect of intercropping beans with common winter cereals, including Wheat, Barley and Oats.  Click on the link or scroll down to find out more.

The spring intercrop looks at the effect of intercropping different legumes with wheat.  These legumes include Lupins, Beans and Peas. Click on the link or scroll down to find out more.

 

Winter Intercrop 2020

Crop Height

Just before harvest, the crop height was taken using a rising plate metre.  This was to demonstrait the effect intercropping had on both intercropped components as it was observed that although the sole crops all had very different crop heights, when intercropped the plants were at a uniform height.

The graph below shows visually how as the proportion of legume increases, the overal crop height also increases for the cereals as well. 

Bean intercropped establishment

The establishment of beans within the intercropped treatments has been greatest within the wheat intercropped treatments with the oat and barley intercrops appearing to somewhat limit the establishment of beans.

Error bars refer to 2 standard errors

Cereal intercropped establishment

The cereal establishment showed very little difference between the intercropped treatments, except for each 25% cereal: 75% bean treatment.  These show a marked increase in establishment over the other intercrops as well as Sole Crops.

Error bars refer to 2 standard errors.

Weed plant counts per metre squared-29/04/20

Results showed the intercropped plots had a weeding effect when compared to the Bean SC while generally not having a weeding effect when compared to the Cereal SC, with exception to 75% Wheat : 25% Bean treatment.

The weed plant counts were taken during the cereal stem extension stage, when the canopy of the crop was beginning to close over the ground and compete with the weeds. 


The oat plots were not able to receive a pre-emergence herbicide as there was not one available that was suitable for both oat and bean.  As a result the oat intercropped plots had a much higher weed population than the other treatments despite having been weeded using a finger tine harrow.

A weed biomas reading will be taken closer to harvest.

Error bars refer to 2 standard deviations.

Seed rates- Winter and Spring

Seed rates of the treatments shown as seeds per metre squared for Winter and Sring sown intercrops

Bean intercropped establishment

The establishment of beans within the intercropped treatments has been greatest within the wheat intercropped treatments with the oat and barley intercrops appearing to somewhat limit the establishment of beans.

Error bars refer to 2 standard errors

 

Spring Intercrop 2020

Seed rates- Winter and Spring

Seed rates of the treatments shown as seeds per metre squared for Winter and Sring sown intercrops

Grain yields

The grain yield refers to the yield of each component of the intercrop, once it has been separated.  This is given in Kg/ hectare.  Although lupines were the only legume to produce a viable crop, the effect on the wheat yield and quality makes up for this.

Yield Land Equivalent Ratio

The land equivalent ratio (LER) shows the efficiency of land use in producing two crops in a given area of land.  Sole crops always have an LER of 1 while any LER above 1 would suggest a potential yield advantage (a yield LER of 1.25 would suggest a 25% yield advantage over a sole cropped equivalent) while an LER of below 1 suggests the intercrop is a less efficient compared to sole crop.  The graph shows that the only intercrop that was less efficient than sole cropping was the 25% wheat: 75% Bean.  It is worked out by the following formula where IC= Intercrop and SC= Sole Crop. (ICa/SCa)+(ICb/SCb)

Wheat Protein

The protein content of the wheat was measured using a Near Infra Red Spectrum machine (NIRS).  This graph shows the different effects each intercrop had on the quality of the wheat grown.

 

Other intercrop services

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Scaffolding for Legumes

One of the difficulties with growing and harvesting some legume crops such as peas, is their tendency to lodge and fall over.  One of the aims of inercropping cereals with legumes is to provide a structure to hold the legumes upright.  

In the photo to the left you can see a spring pea plant already beginning to reach out and hold onto the wheat plant which will support it as they both grow upwards together.

Nitrogen (N) catching

For legume growers, excess soil N can be problematic with weeds in bean crops, especially where there are gaps in the canopy.  Intercropping cereal into a legume crop will mop up excess N, leaving little N available for problematic weeds.

For low input systems, intercropping legumes into a cereal crop can increase available N for the crop while also adding nutritional value to feed crops.

The image to the right shows wheat plants from intercropped seeding ratios of 25:75, 50:50, 75:25, 100:0 (cereal:legume) left to right.

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