Techniques to increase yield and profitability on the farm
A new study published in the journal Agronomy for Sustainable Development aimed to evaluate the efficiency of lentil-spring wheat intercrops to increase yield and profitability for European organic grain farmers. Yield after harvest can be reduced by grain losses due to challenges with mechanical harvesting and the removal of poor quality grain. Thus yield was quantified to take into account post harvest losses. Over two years, four lentil cultivars and two wheat cultivars were organically grown alone and together (intercropped). When wheat and lentils were intercropped, yield prior to harvest was higher for grains grown alone and lower for lentils compared to when they were grown alone. However, when quantified post harvest, yield was higher for intercropped lentils. As a result, the profitability and yield for intercropped lentils and grain were higher than for crops grown alone. “We thus demonstrated for the first time the interest of extending the yield gap concept to consider all grain losses that influence profitability, including those linked to mechanical harvest efficiency and insufficient grain quality. Furthermore, this is a first demonstration of the higher profitability of organic lentil-wheat intercrops compared to sole crops despite the additional costs associated with grain sorting,” the authors wrote.