Plant diversity and overyielding: insights from belowground facilitation of intercropping in agriculture

Long Li, David Tilman, Hans Lambers and Fu-Suo Zhang - New Phytologist

Type: PDF, Webpage
Knowledge level: Intermediate

Farm Table says:

An in depth review of research covering plant diversity, intercropping and the factors that can lead to overyielding within various plant species.

This research review discusses plant diversity and overyielding in agricultural intercropping systems.

Key points were as follows:

  • This review looks into the causes of overyielding through intercropping systems and delving into plant diversity to discover the potential reasons.
  • “Based on this review, we hypothesize that mobilization-based facilitative interactions may be an unsuspected, but potentially important mechanism enhancing productivity in both natural ecosystems and biodiversity experiments.”
  • Some varieties of plants can be P-mobilising or non-P-mobilising types which is an important factor to consider with intercropping.
  • Legumes are commonly nutrient-mobilising species as well as other species that have cluster or dauciform roots.
  • Variations in sowing distance in intercropping requires further research.
  • “In summary, our review of intercropping and overyielding leads us to hypothesize that facilitation mediated by mobilization of soil P, Mn, Fe and Zn potentially plays an important role in the overyielding observed in experimental mixtures of herbaceous perennials in plant diversity experiments.”
2014 - Australia - Long Li, David Tilman, Hans Lambers and Fu-Suo Zhang - New Phytologist
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