Inter-cropping is quite common around the world and it is not just farmers but also hobbyists and gardeners who practice inter-cropping. There are advantages and disadvantages of inter-cropping. You should consider the rewards and challenges before you decide either way.
List of Advantages of Inter-cropping
1. Greater Income, Greater Yield
Inter-cropping offers greater financial returns for a farmer. Even if you are growing some produce for your own family or just as part of a hobby, you will have multiple types of produce, which is always a nice outcome. Intercropping will help farmers use the same land as available and yield more as well as diverse produce. This generates more income for the farmer without really taking up any major expenditure. The infrastructure available or the land used remains the same.
2. Insurance against Crop Damage
Inter-cropping can be the insurance that farmers need, especially when the region is vulnerable to weather extremes. Drought, torrential rain, hurricanes or cyclones and various other weather elements can affect the yield of a given year or season. Having diverse yields allows the farmer to have some income even if the primary crop gets damaged or doesn’t yield as much as expected.
3. Optimum Use of Soil
Intercropping makes the most of the available soil. When anything is grown on a farmland, the crop tends to absorb as much water and nutrients as it needs. There could be more nutrients in the soil under the crops and around. This soil and more specifically the nutrients can be used, by the different varieties of crops. Intercropping also averts soil runoff and can prevent the growth of weeds.
4. Good for Primary Crops
Intercropping is good for the primary crops. The secondary crops can provide shelter and even protect the primary crops. Intercropping also allows you to grow cash crops or any crop that will actually supplement the primary crop in some way.
List of Disadvantages of Inter-cropping
1. Poor Yields
Inter-cropping can lead to poorer yields. The crops may not be compatible. The crops may actually compete for the same nourishment and of course water, which may lead to an unmanageable conflict. It is possible that both crops don’t yield enough produce.
2. Costly & Complicated
Inter-cropping obviously costs more money upfront. There is a need for more fertilizers and water. Harvesting is also more complicated. If something goes horribly wrong with either crop then the other crop may also get damaged.