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SANF- Understanding Intercropping To Increase Sustainability

Intercropping is defined simply as growing two or more crop types at the same time and on the same land. Intercropping is a widely practiced farming method that has been around since farming began. There has been a change in our farming practices into what they are today in light of the modernization of farming equipment. It is mono-cropping that we practice today, which is planting only one crop on a field that was adapted to amplify the number of seeds you could plant on one field and in a shorter period. It’s high time farmers practiced intercropping, which can be more productive.

Some of the benefits of intercropping:

Greater yield leading to greater income- For small and marginal farmers, intercropping can offer huge financial returns as you’ll have multiple types of produce. Using the same land, you’ll yield more as well as diversify the produce, and hence generate more income.

Maximum use of soil- You’ll make the most of the available soil by practicing intercropping. A crop, when grown on farmland, tends to absorb as much water and nutrients as it requires, and there could be more nutrients in the soil under the crops and around, which can come for the use of other different varieties of crops.

Security against crop damage- Crop failure is one of the primary reasons behind the condition of our Indian farmers. Various things can affect the yield of a given year or season, ranging from drought, torrential rain, hurricanes or cyclones, and other weather elements. Intercropping can be the insurance against crop damage, which is the need of the hour today. Having a variety of crops at their disposal will allow the farmer to have some income even if the primary (main) crop is damaged or doesn’t yield as much as expected. It also ensures food security for the entire family all year-round.

To sum it up, practicing intercropping ensures an ecological balance and better use of resources. Crop yields increase due to a higher growth rate, not to mention, there is a reduction in soil erosion, space utilization, and reduction of weeds, pests, and diseases. In multiple cropping systems, pest and disease damage is less than traditional (mono) cropping.

Intercropping doesn’t ask for intensive labor, what it requires are a strong will and management skills, and SANF will completely support you if you are looking forward to adopting this system.


In Intercropping, you can arrange the crops in definite rows. Sow both the crops at the same time. You should select inter/mixed crops based on the climatic requirement of the crop, irrigation facilities, and soil type, and the other major considerations for intercropping are contrasting maturities, growth rhythm, height and rooting pattern and variable insect pest and disease related to component crops so that these complements each other rather than compete for the resources and guard against weather adversities. Intercropping is an improved system of mixed cropping which ensures higher returns, and this system is found more productive especially under rainfed conditions. More than 70% area of pulses in India is covered under intercropping systems. You can intercrop pulse with oilseeds, cereals, and commercial crops.

Now let us talk about intercropping in Melia Dubia plantation:

Near about every kind of fruit and vegetable can be grown as an intercrop in Melia Dubia plantation, starting from ash gourd, eggplant, drumstick, ginger, papaya, turmeric, to mango, coconut, sugarcane, red gram, pomegranate, marigold. It is the best host, you can grow any crop in Melia Dubia project as an intercrop, it helps other crops by increasing nitrogen content in the soil, secretes carbon, helps other roots in getting water, air, thus leading to the rapid growth of the plant.

Melia Dubia or Malabar Neem is a perennial crop (long duration) and grows very tall in a short time. You can go for any gram crops or pulses, or legume crops as an intercrop during the first year of planting, with vegetables being the best bet. After 3-4 years when canopy enlarges, you can go for any shade-loving trees or can do herbs farming in Melia Dubia project as an intercrop. Melia Dubia and sandalwood are usually considered the best combination.

There is a misconception about Melia Dubia farming that at least for eight years one’s land will be entirely blocked (with Melia Dubia plantation), so there’s no earning opportunity. But this is completely untrue. You can grow a minimum of five crops as intercrops in Melia Dubia plantation, including wheat, pulses, millets, castor, and more. Halfway through the plantation, farmers can start earning from these crops which even can make up for your expenses for Melia Dubia. You can choose to grow any crop as an intercrop with Melia Dubia, as long as it is not damaging to the main crop, the component crop should support or supplement it in some way.

Role of Melia Dubia trees in soil enrichment:

  1. Melia Dubia leaves which fall on the ground add an enormous quantity of organic matter to the soil.
  2. The trees enhance soil fertility thereby increasing the yield of crops (that you are growing as intercrop).
  3. Melia Dubia trees enhance the microbial activity in the soil.
  4. Melia Dubia trees along with “TRICHODERMA VIRIDE” degrade pesticides in the soil.
  5. Melia Dubia trees plantation is recommended for soil reclamation in wastelands.

Get solutions to all your farming needs at SANF. We have been consistently working towards dealing with the agrarian issues to uplift our farmers by increasing agricultural growth which has plummeted in a decade and is not a very good sign for the overall growth and development of India.

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