Enhancing multifunctional benefits of cover crops – vegetables intercropping


The proposed project aims at verifying if the introduction and proper management of intercropping in vegetable production systems allows comparable yields and produce quality in comparison to the sole cropping systems, reducing the use of auxiliary, off-farm, inputs (i.e. plant protections products and fertilizers) and non-renewable energy consumption (i.e. fossil fuel for mechanical weeding). The cover crops – vegetables intercropped farming systems should then better perform in term of environmental impact and profitability due to production costs reduction. This hypothesis is tested in a wide range of European areas where open field organic vegetable production are a relevant activity. Field experiments will be carried out in four CORE Countries (IT, DK, DE and SLO), in sites having different soil characteristics and climatic conditions. Two yielding crops have been identified for each study areas according to the following criteria: (i) economic relevance, (ii) season of the cropping cycle and (iii) representativeness as "model" crop of a larger crops group with similar characteristic and to which, the project outcomes can be extended. A range of cover crop families and species are intercropped with the yielding species in function of the typology of "service" they have mainly to provide and in relation to the agro-ecosystems characteristics in which they are introduced. Cover crops sowing period, root pruning as well as spacing or yielding crop and cover crop density adjustment are the relevant experimental factors that will be managed in order to optimize the performances of the intercropped agro-ecosystems in comparison to the sole crop systems. The two systems (the intercropped and the sole ones) will be compared in terms of yield quality and stability, reduction in the use of off-farm inputs and energy, cost effectiveness and environmental impact. Involving 8 partners of 5 CORE Countries, project activities are organized in 6 work packages.


01. Sep. 2011 till 31. Aug. 2014

Participants at FOEL

  • Peter von Fragstein und Niemsdorff
  • Jakob Wenz
  • Josef Mofor


  • Agricultural Research Council - Research Center of Plant & Soil
    (Dr. Stefano Canali)
  • Agricultural Research Council - Research Unit for Horticulture
    (Dr. Gabriele Campanelli)
  • Associazione Italiana Agricoltura Biologica
    (Msc Livia Ortolani)
  • University of Bologna
    (Prof. Dr. Giovanni Burgio)
  • University of Maribor
    (Prof. Dr. Franc Bavec)
  • University of Aarhus
    (assoc. Prof. Dr. Hanne L. Kristensen)


Core Organic II

BMEL (Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft)

BÖLN (Bundesprogramm Ökologischer Landbau und andere Formen nachhaltiger Landbewirtschaftung), FKZ: 2811OE019