In the world of agriculture, teamwork is much more productive because the sum of the capacities of each person provides a synergistic effect. In this way, crop results are greatly improved. Well, the same thing happens with the plant world. In this case, we are talking about the crop association. It is about growing in the same space and at the same time two or more plant species obtaining better forms of production than cultivating each of the species separately.
In this article we are going to tell you what the crop association consists of, what are its characteristics and what are the advantages and disadvantages.
What is the cultivation association
We are talking about the planting of two or more species in the same space and time to For best results, the same species are grown separately. A more classic example of crop association is the cultivation of beans associated with the cultivation of species such as lettuce, carrots or potatoes. There are also certain unfavorable combinations such as the legume family that can never be associated with the plants of the lily family. Liliaceae do not allow the microorganisms responsible for fixing nitrogen to develop in the roots of plants of the legume family.
Why associate crops?
Some plants release chemicals in their roots, stems, leaves, or flowers, which can be beneficial or detrimental to the cultivation of other plants. The monoculture (i.e. a crop in which only one plant grows) is not a good agricultural practice, because the chemical signals sent by the monoculture are very strong and attract possible pests of the crop. If the possible pests reach the crop, they will find the ideal conditions to begin to expand and multiply rapidly to colonize the entire surface.
Let’s see some of the advantages of associating crops:
- Aromatically confusing potential insect pestssince the chemical signal emitted by the crop will not be clear, due to the mixing of plants.
- Attract beneficial insects as pollinatorspest predators.
- Ahelp other crops to support themsuch as associating corn with beans, serving the corn plant as a support for the bean.
- Better use of spaceby interspersing long-cycle plants, such as aubergine, with short-cycle plants, such as lettuce.
- Stimulate crop development.
Compared to field crops with a single crop or monoculture, growing vegetables in a garden makes it possible to link different crops, that is, different species are sown together. Widespread planting can bring economic benefits to large-scale production, but associated crops have more advantages in gardens. Among other reasons, it is convenient to associate crops for different reasons. The first is a better use of nutrients.
From the productive point of view, the association of crops allows to take better advantage of the soil and its nutrients. We can also make better use of water and light, thus increasing the productivity of the garden. For this reason, vertically growing species are grown together with other horizontally growing species, such as leeks and lettuces. Leeks take up little horizontal space, while lettuces occupy the bottom space left by leeks and do not compete for top space. It can simply be said that “they don’t bother each other” and they don’t steal space or light.
Benefits and types of crop association
Let’s see step by step what are the benefits of the association of crops.
- Improve ground conditions: some species are capable of changing soil conditions and it allows other species to take advantage of this. For example, if we plant legumes with certain vegetables, the legumes will provide the nitrogen to the soil from which the vegetables benefit.
- Benefits nearby species: it is necessary to know that many vegetables and vegetables play a good control in the plagues and diseases of the plants. The ability to produce substances that act on other plants in a good environment is known as plant allelopathy. It is a way of influencing a plant on those around it to know if these influences can or cannot favor or harm.
- Helps fight pests and diseases: there are certain effects on the dynamics of insect populations and the pressure on crops is less.
We will now go on to see what are the types of crop associations that exist:
- Mixed: it is done when the land is sown completely at random.
- Interleaved: It is done when planting the plant with a certain distance between 1000.005 and the other.
- In plots: crops are sown in plots and are interspersed through strips.
Advantages and disadvantages of the association of crops
The association of crops has some advantages over monoculture. Let’s see what they are:
- There is a much slower water intersection, so irrigation is more efficient.
- Water filtration is slower and allows moisture to be retained.
- It is reduced to the intensity of the light that reaches the ground
- Helps reduce evaporation from the agricultural system
- They retain soils better, making them more durable.
- Improves soil fertility.
- Add organic matter continuously, since there are several species that combine for this.
- Total energy expenditure is lower in this production system.
- By having a system of exploitation of crops, the possibilities of commercialization with the crops is much greater.
As you might expect, this type of practice also has some disadvantages. These are the following:
- More handling work required and preparation for each crop installed.
- There is a greater contagion of insects and diseases that attack different species of plants.
- There may be a problem of competition for natural resources if a good combination is not made in the crop association.
I hope that with this information you can learn more about the crop association and its characteristics.