Opportunities and barriers of legume-cereal intercropping in Spain

What benefits does legume-cereal intercropping offer? And what are potential barriers to its adoption?

To explore these questions, our Spanish partners from the Union of Small Farmers and Ranchers (UPA) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) hosted a workshop on intercropping on September 8. The workshop brought together interested farmers, experts and researchers at the UPA headquarters in Madrid.

The benefits and challenges of intercropping in Spain

Person giving a talk in front of a group of people.

During the workshop, participants analysed the pros and cons of intercropping. Some of the benefits that were highlighted include the improved soil health, erosion control and a reduced input-productivity ratio.

On the other hand, the low rainfall was highlighted as a major obstacle to implementing this technique in Spain. Furthermore, technical difficulties during harvest and uncertainties around the selling and final use of the crops were highlighted as a challenge. Last but not least, the fight against weeds was also mentioned.

Many open questions...

Workshop participants



The workshop provided a platform to discuss open questions and share concerns. The questions were centred around selecting the most suitable crop variety and the crops’ vegetative cycles. Also, the machinery needed for implementing intercropping, e.g. for harvesting the crops, was discussed.

...that LEGUMINOSE will try to address

The LEGUMINOSE project will try to provide answers to all these questions through six research field trials and 180 on-farm living labs throughout Europe and beyond. In Spain, the research field trial is located in Arganda del Rey, in Madrid, with an intercrop of alfalfa and barley.