Gone and forgotten: facilitative effects of intercropping combinations did not carry over to affect barley performance in a follow‑up crop rotation

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


Aim: Intercropping often leads to improved productivity of individual species compared to monocultures. We have practically little knowledge of facilitation effects in different intercropping systems and their importance in creating soil legacies that can indirectly affect the succeeding crop in a crop rotation through plant-soil feedback (PSF) effects. Methods: To test this, we used a two-phased field experiment where we combined intercropping and crop rotation. During intercropping, we grew maize, faba bean, and lupine in monocultures or two-species crop combinations. The following season, we grew winter barley on the soil previously used for intercropping to test PSF effects under field conditions. Results: We found evidence for facilitative effects on aboveground biomass production that were species-specific with faba bean and maize biomass benefitting when intercropped compared to their expected biomasses in monocultures. Lupine, in contrast, performed best in monocultures. After the intercropping phase, total soil mineral nitrogen was higher in legume monocultures creating soil legacies but this did not affect soil microbial parameters and barley biomass production in the follow-up rotation phase. Conclusions: We found support for species-specific positive and negative interactions in intercropping. Our results also demonstrated that soil legacies play no significant role under moderately high nutrient environments.

ZeitschriftPlant and Soil
Seiten (von - bis)405-419
Anzahl der Seiten15
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 10.2021

Bibliographische Notiz

Funding Information:
We greatly acknowledge field assistance from Thomas Niemeyer, Christoph Stegen, Vladimir Vakhtinskii, Pola Rief, Laura Störzer, Hannes Schempp, Johanna Wille, and Mira Hesselman. This research was financed by the BonaRes soil sustainability program of the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the ‘INPLAMINT – Increasing agricultural nutrient-use efficiency by optimizing plant-soil-microorganisms interactions’ project with the grant numbers: 031B0508H and 031B0508F. Authors would like to sincerely thank the editor and three anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments and suggestions.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • Ökosystemforschung - Soil legacies, Plant-soil feedback effects, arbuscular mycorrhizal colonization, Enzyme activities, Microbial biomass, Belowground interactions