La Trobe
1168791_Khanal,U_2021.pdf (1.08 MB)

Intercropping—evaluating the advantages to broadacre systems

Download (1.08 MB)
journal contribution
posted on 2021-08-13, 01:58 authored by U Khanal, KJ Stott, Roger ArmstrongRoger Armstrong, JG Nuttall, F Henry, BP Christy, M Mitchell, PA Riffkin, AJ Wallace, M McCaskill, T Thayalakumaran, GJ O’leary
Intercropping is considered by its advocates to be a sustainable, environmentally sound, and economically advantageous cropping system. Intercropping systems are complex, with nonuniform competition between the component species within the cropping cycle, typically leading to unequal relative yields making evaluation difficult. This paper is a review of the main existing metrics used in the scientific literature to assess intercropping systems. Their strengths and limitations are discussed. Robust metrics for characterising intercropping systems are proposed. A major limitation is that current metrics assume the same management level between intercropping and monocropping systems and do not consider differences in costs of production. Another drawback is that they assume the component crops in the mixture are of equal value. Moreover, in employing metrics, many studies have considered direct and private costs and benefits only, ignoring indirect and social costs and benefits of intercropping systems per se. Furthermore, production risk and growers’ risk preferences were often overlooked. In evaluating intercropping advantage using data from field trials, four metrics are recommended that collectively take into account all important differences in private costs and benefits between intercropping and monocropping systems, specifically the Land Equivalent Ratio, Yield Ratio, Value Ratio and Net Gross Margin.


This research was funded by Agriculture Victoria and the Australian Grains Research and Development Corporation under the project VGIP2B.


Publication Date



Agriculture (Switzerland)





Article Number

ARTN 453





Rights Statement

The Author reserves all moral rights over the deposited text and must be credited if any re-use occurs. Documents deposited in OPAL are the Open Access versions of outputs published elsewhere. Changes resulting from the publishing process may therefore not be reflected in this document. The final published version may be obtained via the publisher’s DOI. Please note that additional copyright and access restrictions may apply to the published version.