Mixed cropping of vegetables to improve organic tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) production in small farmer systems
Tomato is one of the most important vegetables in the world; its demand is increasing for its antioxidant properties and high content of lycopene. An agro-ecological strategy to reduce pests and use of agrochemical inputs is intercropping, a common practice of many small farmers. In order to achieve sustainable production, we compared the tomato crop 'Rio Grande OP' produced by a monoculture system, with intercropping systems of; zucchini, crotalaria (Crotalaria juncea), basil, green bean and lettuce in an organic production system. The associated crops were sown at the same date between tomato crops. The land equivalent ratio (LER) was used to compare the productivity of the tomato-cropping systems. Production of tomato-lettuce and tomato-green bean did not significantly differ from the monoculture. In the tomato-basil, tomato-crotalaria and tomato-zucchini systems yield decreased up to 64% of the monoculture. The tomato-lettuce association obtained the highest percentage of premium quality fruits according to local market standards. The LER of the tomato-lettuce and tomato-green bean was 1.3 and 1.2, respectively. The experiment shows that mixed cropping can lead to additional production opportunities. In addition to the tomato production, 30% more lettuce and 20% more green bean can be obtained without compromising tomato yields and dry matter content.
Reynafarje, X., Siura, S. and Pérez, K. (2016). Mixed cropping of vegetables to improve organic tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) production in small farmer systems. Acta Hortic. 1128, 299-304
polyculture, agroecology, land equivalent ratio, vegetable crops