Intercropping of cereals and grain legumes for increased production, weed control, improved product quality and prevention of N-losses in European organic farming systems


  • Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Department of Agricultural Sciences, Organic Farming Unit, Taastrrup, DK, Prof. Dr. E.S. Jensen
  • Risø National Laboratory, Plant Research Department, Roskilde, DK, Dr. P. Ambus
  • Research Centre Foulum, Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Nutrition and Physiology, Tjele, DK, Dr. S. Boisen
  • The University of Reading, Department of Agriculture, Reading, UK, Dr. M. Gooding
  • Ecole Superieure de Agriculture, Laboratoire d'Agronomie, Angers, F, Prof. Y. Crozat
  • Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Avignon, F, Dr. N. Brisson
  • University “Mediterranea” of Reggio Calabria, Department of Agrochemistry and Agrobiology, Gallina, I, Prof. M. Monti


EU, 5. Framework


2003  till 2005

Participants at FOEL:

  • Christoph Dahlmann
  • Peter von Fragstein und Niemsdorff


INTERCROP aims at developing the European level of the scientific and operational understanding of intercropping (IC). INTERCROP takes an uniquely multidisciplinary and integrated European approach to evaluate the potential and to be able to make recommendations for using intercropping as an environmental-friendly plant production mana­gement method in organic farming systems for different regional conditions. Intercropping can increase organic cereal and grain legume protein production in Europe and will safeguard the organic farmers’ earnings and intercropping contributes to a substantial increase of biodiversity in European farming systems.

Mains aims are:


  • Identify benefits and obstacles for the far more extensive and flexible use of intercropping of arable crops in the EU in order to resolve both the technical and socio-economic aspects.
  • Increase the knowledge on the multifunctional role of intercropping: production level and stability, resource use, environmental impacts, and product quality of intercrops.
  • Design and test new methods for intercropping.
  • To carry out on-farm demonstration activities.


Scientific and technological objectives


  • To increase the knowledge and awareness of the multifunctional role of intercropping systems in organic farming with special emphasis on arable cropping systems.
  • To quantify yield advantage and stability of selected intercrops compared to sole crops in organic farming systems under different agro-ecological conditions in Europe.
  • To determine the effect of intercropping on weed suppression, pest and diseases in organic arable crops.
  • To determine crop nitrogen dynamics in intercrops compared to sole crops and the potential of intercrops for minimizing the risk of N-leaching in organic farming systems.
  • To determine the effects of and potential for manipulating grain quality parameters by intercropping.
  • To develop and test new methods of intercropping for multifunctional purposes.

Publications/Final report

  • Hauggaard-Nielsen, H., Ambus, P., Corre-Hellou, G., Crozat, Y., Dahlmann, C., Dibet, A., Fragstein, P. von, Gooding, M., Pristeri, A., Monti, M. and Jensen, E.S. (2009). Pea-barley intercropping for efficient symbiotic N2-fixation, soil N acquisition and other nutrients in European organic cropping systems. Field Crops Research 113(1): 64-71.
  • Hauggaard-Nielsen, H. Gooding, M. Ambus, P. Corre-Hellou, G., Crozat, Y. Dahlmann, C., Dibet, A., Fragstein, P. von, Pristeri, A., Monti, M. and Jensen, E.S. (2009). Pea-barley intercropping and short-term subsequent crop effects across European organic cropping conditions. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, DOI 10.1007/s10705-009-9254-y.
  • Gooding, M.J., Kasynova, E., Ruske, R., Hauggaard-Nielsen, H., Jensen, E.S., Dahlmann, C., Fragstein, P. von, Dibet, A., Corre-Hellou, G., Crozat, Y., Pristeri, A., Romeo, M., Monti, M. and Launay, M. (2007). Intercropping with pulses to concentrate nitrogen and sulphur in wheat. Journal of Agricultural Science 145(5): 469-479.