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Intercropping of cereals and grain legumes for increased production, weed control, improved product quality and prevention of N-losses in European organic farming systems

Organic farming is increasing in Europe. However, the production of cereals and protein crops (peas, beans, etc.) needs to be increased to meet the demand for organic feed and food in Europe starting from 2005. Intercropping, which is the simultaneous growing of two or more crop species on the same land, can contribute to this overall goal. The purpose of this multidisciplinary research is to determine the potential for intercropping in European organic farming. The project is expected to contribute to an increased use of intercropping and the associated beneficial effects, such as environment-friendly production, ecological management of pests and weeds, and healthy products.

The objectives of the project are:
1) to determine dry matter production of selected intercrop communities compared with their associated sole crops and the respective yield stabilities over three years
2) to determine intercrop nutrient acquisition, especially soil-N use and biological N2 fixation compared to sole crops, the effects of intercropping on post-harvest N dynamics and the risk of N-losses
3) to study the crop-weed interactions, and monitor diseases and pests in inter- and sole crops
4) to determine the effects of intercropping on grain quality parameters
5) to develop a simulation model for modelling grain-legume cereal intercrops
6) to increase the knowledge and awareness of intercropping systems in organic farming with special emphasis on cereal-grain legume systems via a survey and on-farm demonstrations.

Progress to Date
The INTERCROP project has proceeded smoothly and has continued with the good scientific progress that characterized the first reporting period. The gathering of data from experiments, the analysis of the results obtained after the second growing season as well as the sharing of scientific information among the different partners has proceeded easily and smoothly with a high degree of collaboration among partners. Partners have been sharing the results from the second year of experiments at different stages throughout the year (half year report, annual meeting and preparation of the second annual report) which has allowed them to obtain more conclusive remarks regarding the different issues treated in the workpackages. Scientific progress is therefore underway and the last year of the project seems promising for obtaining further and conclusive knowledge on the potentiality of intercropping in Europe.

Classified in ARABLE CROPS

Scientist responsible for the project

Hojebakkegaard Alle 13
DK-2630 Taastrup
Denmark - DK

Phone: +45 35283517
Fax: +45 35282175


Project ID QLRT-2001-02352
Organisation The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University
Area 5.1.1
Start date 01 January 2003
Duration (months) 36
Total cost 1 880 501 €
Total EC contribution   1 347 277 €
Status Ongoing

The partners


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