Intercropping Beans and Triticale, Sonning Farm, Berkshire

Research Background

Intercropping cereals and pulses can have a beneficial impact on a number of factors including weed control and harvestability. This trial at the University of Reading Crop Research Centre in 2018/19 compared intercrops of beans and triticale to monocrop comparisons in spring and winter sown crops, looking at the impact on weed control, lodging and yield.

Trial Design

  • The trial was set up using 6 randomised blocks for spring and winter sown crops with one replication in each block. 
  • Plots situated on light sandy loam. Optimal conditions in the autumn for drilling. Very dry spring.
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The image above shows the trial design with the replicates

Findings & recommendations

  • There was no lodging recorded in any treatment.  
  • There was a noticeable difference between the spring and winter crops harvestability, with winter crops flowing better through the combine. This was most likely due to weed burden.  
  • No data was collected for weed burden however there was a visual advantage to intercropping as a measure of controlling weeds.
  • Yield data suggested winter intercrops more reliably produced positive land equivalent ratio (LER)s while spring intercrops had the potential to produce higher LERs given the right conditions.
View the results in pdf form here

David is also currently looking at a number of other factors including in 2019/20 trials:

  • Economic returns from intercropping
  • Crop combinations of different cereals with bean and different legumes with wheat
  • Weed management
  • Legacy effect on following crops
  • Nutritional benefits (effect on grain nitrogen %)

Associated Agricology Partner Organisation(s):

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