Yield and yield components of wheat and maize in wheat-maize intercropping in the Netherlands

Fang Gou, M.K. van Ittersum, Guoyu Wang, P.E.L. van der Putten, Wopke van der Werf*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Intercropping is widely used by smallholder farmers in developing countries, and attracting attention in the context of ecological intensification of agriculture in developed countries. There is little experience with intercropping of food crops in Western Europe. Yields in intercrops depend on planting patterns of the mixed species in interaction with local growing conditions. Here we present data of two years field experimentation on yield and yield components of a wheat-maize intercrop system in different planting configurations in the Netherlands. Treatments included sole crops of wheat (SW) and maize (SM), a replacement intercrop consisting of strips of six wheat rows alternating with two maize rows (6:2WM), as well as subtractive or additive designs, based on skip-row (6:0WM, 0:2WM) and add-row (8:2WM, 6:3WM) configurations. The land equivalent ratio (LER) of intercrops varied from 1.18 to 1.30 in 2013 and from 0.97 to 1.08 in 2014. Wheat grown in the border rows of wheat strips had higher ear number per meter row, greater kernel number per ear, and greater yield per meter row than wheat in inner rows and sole wheat, indicating reduced competition. Wheat in the border rows in the intercrops had, however, reduced thousand kernel weight and harvest index, indicating that competition in border rows intensified over time. Intercropping negatively affected maize biomass and thousand kernel weight, especially in add-row treatments. This study indicates that there is a potential yield benefit for the wheat-maize intercropping system under Western European growing conditions. However, the LER was affected by yearly variation in weather conditions and significantly greater than one in only one of the two years of the study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-27
JournalEuropean Journal of Agronomy
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Border row effect
  • Europe
  • Intercrop configurations
  • LER


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