Crops Suited for Intercropping in Coconut Farms

Crops Suited for Intercropping in Coconut Farms

Coconut is predominantly a tropical crop that is grown in a wide variety of soil types such as laterite, some coastal sandy as well as alluvial soil. It can also grow in reclaimed soils of the marshy lowlands. The coconut planting can also tolerate salinity and as well as a wide range of pH variations (from 5.0 to 8.0). This is a total of 1000 mm of rainfall which will be sufficient if it is almost evenly distributed throughout the year. The temperature can also likely go from 20 ° to 32°C, which can be a mean annual temperature of about 270C which is best for vigorous growth as well as a good yield. The palm also requires plenty of sunlight that does not allow it to grow well under shade or in severe cloudy conditions. The concept of intercropping as well as crop rotation is an elective methodology that can be connected by the process of multiple cropping in the coconut farm. Intercropping is also a very selective technique that is great for growing ideally at least two harvests together on similar land. The process of intercropping can help prevent any form of pests and diseases from spreading throughout the field and thus aids in increasing soil fertility.

There are four types of Intercropping

Several intercropping approaches may be used, and some of them are primarily advantageous for controlling pests and the stage of coconut harvesting. It is an excellent approach to gain access to several yields, which may serve as a reliable source of income. These categories refer to the methods used and the circumstances in which they are used rather than the crops themselves. 

Row intercropping - This method of intercropping is typically used when we can grow at least two harvests with less than one yield that are planted in rows. Rice, pineapple, and maize are among the crops that may provide a harvest alongside the coconut plantations and are typically grown as intercrops between the rows of other crops. Papaya, chocolate, coffee, bananas, and other tropical fruits are among the other excellent possibilities that are frequently produced in large quantities.

The intercropping technique known as "strip intercropping" is frequently used in coconut farms where at least two harvests are typically grown together in strips that are sufficiently wide to prevent them from being segregated during the production of yields using mechanical actualizes. However, because it's close enough for the 

products to interact it makes for a great place to grow crops like wheat, corn, or soybeans. 

Mixed Inter Cropping – This form of intercropping is usually carried out to grow at least two yields in the meantime with no specific or unmistakable line arrangement. This includes some of the annual harvests from developing beans, corn, or squash.

Relay Inter Cropping – Using this method of intercropping in the coconut farms, the farmers can focus on growing a moment trim which is planted into the current yield of the coconut planting when it blossoms. However, this step is done before the harvesting stage. Some of the crops that can be intercropped using this method are cassava, sweet potato, and cotton. 

Unlike intercropping. when it comes to crop rotation or the format of sequential cropping, at least two harvests are focused on being grown in a very steady progression of very similar land parcels. Example: Corn, tomato, tubers, peas, brassicas, etc.

Advantages of Intercropping 

  1. Reduction in soil erosion as well as the careful control of pests and weeds
  2. Intercropping with the introduction of cash crops is always higher profitable
  3. It acts as a positive insurance against the possible failure of crops in their abnormal years
  4. Inter-crop tends to help maintain the overall soil fertility as there is always enough and more nutrient uptake which is usually made from all the many layers of soil
  5. Inter-cropping gives the farmers an additional yield income per unit area than just solely focusing on single cropping
  6. It helps to avoid any form of inter-crop competition and this leads to a higher number of crop plants that can be grown per unit area
  7. The intercropping system usually utilizes enough and more resources that are efficiently used which will increase its productivity
  8. Intercrops can help to provide adequate shade and support to the other crops that are also going to be harvested

Environmental factors to be considered for intercropping in coconut farms 

The environment is crucial in deciding the conditions under which the crops will grow and produce their yield. Some of the major factors that can help to determine the quality of the intercropping process within the coconut farms involve

Rainfall conditions:

Rainfall is a major source of water which greatly works towards determining crop productivity as well as the quality in large quantities for the crop growth that can be decided based on other growth factors. Thus, when it comes to the rainfall conditions it should be checked well before introducing the intercropping technique and choosing the right crops to be planted.                                              

However, too much, rainfall can cause issues like water logging or heavy storms that can devastate crop growth. Therefore it is necessary to take into consideration the characteristics of the crops grown as well as the drainage situation. For instance, planting taro and sweet potatoes can be ideally chosen in the waterlogging areas as they will be able to survive under such volatile conditions for a good number of days. 


By controlling the temperature within the coconut farm, it is sure to influence all physical activities such as photosynthesis, respiration, the flowering stage, the ideal fruit set, the possible rate of maturation, as well as the senescence, etc., thus it helps to determine the overall quality and yield of the crops. The overall crops growing should be properly selected according to the prevailing temperature. 

Sunlight and day length:

While the process of photosynthesis generally uses light, the total light intensity and duration are also some of the most important factors for crop growth as well as its development. Some of the low light causes the plants to be long, and also focuses on the spindly, with really small leaves, poorer bud blades as well a lack of pollination, and poor fruit quality. Key factors involved in this are:

- Light affects the pollen viability as well as the fruit set. 

- Certain seed usually requires light to properly break dormancy e.g. lettuce           

- Some horticultural crops will usually be a lot more sensitive to photoperiod.

Soil Condition in the Coconut Farms:

The possible problems associated with differentiating soil particle sizes can be efficiently identified with the use of soil textures. This implies that the soil types are also often categorized by the total proportion of each texture, although fertilizer treatments can also change depending on the crops being produced and the pH levels of the soil. The current soil analysis may also be performed to properly comprehend the pH levels. 

Rotation of crops in coconut farms:

In general, crop rotation involves growing crops in deliberately distinct garden spaces so that no one crop is planted in the same spot twice in succession. Crop rotation approaches often aid in preserving both the general soil structure and nutrient levels. This lessens the possibility of soilborne pests getting established in the garden and interfering.                                 

Advantages of Crop Rotation in Agriculture

● Better Nitrogen Management

● Improved Soil Structure

● Water conservation

● Production of green manure crops

● Reduced Land and Water pollution

● Easier pest and weed control

● Healthy Environment

● Prevention of soil erosion

● Climate change mitigation

● High Crop yields

Planting coconut seedlings 7.5 to 9.0 metres apart tends to result in broader spacing between the crops. This frequently provides farmers the chance to raise different crops, either yearly as an intercrop or concentrating on perennials as a mixed crop, which is always a fantastic source of extra revenue. Since the intercrop was created, it is now possible to choose an intercrop depending on the overall climatic requirement of the crop, thus making it available for irrigation facilities as well as soil type. Also, keep in mind the size of the canopy, the coconut tree and the other crop’s age as well as all possible spacing problems of the coconut which are to be considered before selecting an intercrop:

  Coconut – Growth Period

 Inter Crops

  < 7 years of age

Groundnut, Ginger, pineapple and Bhendi, Turmeric, Tapioca, Sweet Potato, Sirukizhangu, Elephant Foot Yam,

  7 to 20 years of age

Biennial crops such as Banana varieties Poovan and Monthan are effectively suitable.

  Above 20 years of age

Perennials such as Cocoa or pepper are greatly suitable

 The crops selected for mixed-cropping should also preferably be made to be shade tolerant since the incidence of having sunlight would be very insufficient below the canopy of the coconut trees. 

Bananas as a Mixed Crop with Coconut Planting

Among all the mixed crops being tested, the banana plant is also found to be the most important intercrop for most farmers in the coconut garden. It surely tends to respond very well to similar irrigation and manuring patterns as coconut and is also in so many ways comparatively free from several serious pests and diseases. This is except for the burrowing nematode in certain pockets. Banana as an intercrop tends to be mostly grown under rain-fed conditions. There are about 1000 banana plants that could be raised within a hectare of a coconut garden. That is a total of 125 coconut palm plants within that hectare itself. 

Pineapple as a Mixed Crop with Coconut Planting

Pineapple could very successfully be raised as an intercrop very much under both rain-fed as well as irrigated conditions. Under the areas where there is more irrigation, the size of each fruit can usually be about 1.5 kg; while when considering it as a rain-fed crop, the size is often reduced to half (0.71 kg). About 4000 kg of pineapple can likely be harvested in a hectare using the multi-storeyed cropping system 

Intercropping with turmeric in coconut farms

Turmeric is generally a very essential in intercrop plantation gardens with that of the areca nut and coconut planting. Wherever areca nut or coconut plantation is cultivated, the turmeric is always added as an intercrop at the very pre and post-bearing stages of the crop planting process. The coconut palm plants are ideally spaced at a distance of 7.5-8 m. In this type of plantation, it usually takes up to three years to plant the seedlings so that the entire area can be used for intercropping. It is noteworthy that the shade is almost negligible as well. As the palms tend to grow, at a greater progressive ground coverage, they can go to the crown for up to 20 years. After that, with the overall increase of palm height, there is always an increase in the penetration of enough quantum of sunlight through the canopy. Moreover, it is only 25 per cent of the ground is effectively used by the coconut palm at the very bearing stage. 

Intercropping with Arecanut in a Coconut Farm                                          

When planted at a recommended spacing of about 2.7mx2.7m,61% with the finer roots confined within a 50 cm distance and dug within a depth from the trunk of a coconut palm plant, The space occupied by component crops is always much higher than that occupied that which is occupied by other intercrops. All these points tend to indicate that planting an areca nut as a sole crop will not always be utilized fully in the natural resources such as soil, space, and light. There is an excellent opportunity for the temporal and spatial distribution of various crop species, which can help to increase efficiency and boost income. The assured irrigation in the areca nut gardens has so much greater potential for multiple cropping.