Definition - What does Intercropping mean?
Intercropping is the companion planting method of growing one crop alongside another. The purpose behind intercropping is to increase yields by doubling up on available growing space. Intercropping creates biodiversity, which attracts a variety of beneficial and predatory insects that isn’t possible with monoculture gardening.
MaximumYield explains Intercropping
There are three basic classifications of intercropping; mixed cropping, which involves planting a variety of compatible plants together; row cropping or alley cropping, in which different plants are planted alongside each other in rows; or temporal intercropping, in which a fast-growing crop is planted alongside a slower growing crop.
Relay cropping is a form of temporal intercropping where the second crop is planted during the growth of the first crop. When the fruit of the first crop is harvested, the plant fades to make room for the second crop to grow. Row cropping is popular because it also uses space that would otherwise remain wasted
The space between rows of corn, for example, is essentially wasted space that could be used for intercropping. Vine crops are excellent for intercropping with corn because they fill the space between rows but are not competitive with the corn for nutrients.
Beans are a popular intercropping vegetable because they can be grown as a bush variety alongside other crops or as a vine variety on poles alongside other crops. Another advantage of beans is that as a legume they naturally produce nitrogen, which benefits the other companion plant.