Intercropping is the practice of cultivating an additional crop in the spaces available between the main crop. It is a practice often associated with sustainable agriculture and organic farming. It forms a part of polyculture. Examples of intercropping strategies are planting a deep-rooted crop with a shallow-rooted crop, or planting a tall crop with a shorter crop that requires partial shade.
The goal of intercropping is to produce a greater yield on a given piece of land, by making use of space that would otherwise be wasted with a single crop. Careful planning is required, taking into account the soil, climate, crops and varieties. It is particularly important not have crops competing with each other for space, nutrients, water or sunlight.
Intercropping of compatible plants also encourages biodiversity, by providing a habitat for a variety of insects and soil organisms that would not be present in a single crop environment.
Alley cropping is a particular form of intercropping where the plants are grown in rows.
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