Intercropping Promotes Insect Biodiversity Without Harming Yields, Study Shows

A published study led by the Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change (LIB) showed that intercropping promotes the diversity of insects and other arthropods in agriculture without adversely affecting yields. In the study, researchers from the LIB, the University of Münster and the University of Bonn investigated how crop diversity and species, as well as the use of agrochemicals, affect arthropod biodiversity. In addition, researchers measured weeds and crop biomass. The results show that higher crop diversity in intercropping had a positive effect on arthropod abundance and diversity, irrespective of land use intensity. “By converting parts of our monocultures to mixed crops, we could increase flower visitation from a few thousand to up to 1.5 million insect visits per hectare and thus probably also indirectly promote ecosystem services such as pollination or biological pest control,” concludes Christoph Scherber, Deputy Director of the LIB.
Related ATTRA publication: Companion Planting & Botanical Pesticides: Concepts & Resources