Intercropping supports biodiversity without compromising yield

The ever-growing global population demands more food production, while at the same time, increased farming intensity has contributed to the depletion of important insect populations. A recent study published in the journal Basic and Applied Ecology shows that farming in ways that promote biodiversity doesn’t have to comprise yield efficiency. Specifically, the three-year field study found that diversifying a farming system, rather than simplifying it for production efficiency, benefits important insects like pollinators and natural enemies to pests that reduce reliance on chemical pest control. Farm diversification can occur across time (rotation) or across space in the same time (e.g. intercropping). This study shows that intercropping not only increases beneficial biodiversity, it also increases yield compared to monoculture planting. These results challenge the notion that industrialized farming practices like monoculture cropping from fence to fence are the most productive and efficient way to produce food. Instead, less intensive and more diversified farming can be beneficial for both the environment and the farmer.


Banner Photo Credit: Adele Payman;