An eco-physiological model was used to improve understanding of interplant competition based on physiological, morphological and phenological processes. The model was parameterised based on characteristics of the plants in monocultures and its performance was evaluated for the crop mixtures using experimental data from different growing seasons. A light interception routine accounting for row-geometry was compared to a routine assuming a homogeneous horizontal leaf area distribution. The models simulated the light distribution among the species equally well. The production of the two crops in the mixture was accurately simulated using parameter values based on monoculture growth characteristics. Morphological characteristics of the species such as the relative growth rate of leaf area during early growth and specific leaf area largely determined the competitive strength of the species. Dry matter production of the species, particularly if grown in mixture, was highly sensitive to maximum plant height and radiation use efficiency. Celery was found to be a stronger competitor than leek and clear responses of quality characteristics to plant density in monoculture and mixtures were observed. The model was used to determine ranges of plant densities that enable the intercropping system to meet current quality standards of the component crops.
- Interplant competition
- Mechanistic model