Developed by D. Muenchrath


Exner, et al. 1999. Yields and returns from strip intercropping on six Iowa farms. Am. J. Alt. Ag. 14(2):69-77.

Francis, et al. 1986. Strip cropping corn and grain legumes: A review. Am. J. Alt. Ag. 1(4):159-164.

Ghaffarzadeh, M. 1997. Economic and biological benefits of intercropping Berseem clover with oat in corn-soybean-oat rotations. J. Prod. Agric. 10:314-319.

Liebman and Davis. 2000. Integration of soil, crop and weed management in low-external-input farming systems. Weed Res. 40:27-47.

West, T. D., and D.R. Griffith. 1992. Effect of strip-intercropping corn and soybean on yield and profit. J. Prod. Agric. 5:107-110.

Completion time: About 1 week


In the last lesson, you learned that multiple cropping systems intensify production in time and/or space. More specifically, sequential cropping amplifies crop production in time, whereas intercropping does so in both time and space. This lesson will focus on intercropping systems.

Table 9.1 Comparison of characteristics of sequential cropping and intercropping patterns.
Sequential Cropping Intercropping
  • Intensification is only in the time dimension.
  • The succeeding crop is planted after the preceding one has been harvested.
  • No direct competition between crops
  • Producer manages only one crop at a time in the particular field.
  • Intensification is in both time and space dimensions.
  • Two or more crops are grown simultaneously on the same field.
  • Intercrop competition during part or all of crop growth may occur.
  • Producer manages more than one crop at a time in the same field.

Interest in intercropping in the U.S. is expanding as research emphases shift towards developing production practices that will improve agricultural sustainability and accountability. Much of the available data on intercropping is from developing nations, where intercropping has been more commonly practiced—there is much we can learn from these systems. The information and principles do apply to intercropping systems adapted for agriculture in the U.S. and other industrialized nations.


  1. Describe and compare intercropping patterns.
  2. Evaluate yield responses of intercropping systems.
  3. Analyze the ecology of multiple cropping patterns.
  4. Compare the productivity of cropping systems.