top of page

Understanding the Effects of Intercropping Peas, Oats and Canola On Grain and Forage Production

Updated: May 9

Research Conducted By: Alan Lee, MSc Student, Department of Sustainable Resources, University of Alberta

Funders: Canadian Agricultural Partnership, MD of Fairview

Collaborators: Akim Omokanye (PCBFA), Dr. Guillermo Hernandez (University of Alberta), Dr. Monika Gorzelak (Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge)

Project Duration: 2019 – 2021

Article From: Peace Country Beef & Forage Association 2019 Annual Report


The general goal for producers often is to produce the highest returns on their crops, either through increasing yield or decreasing inputs. Increasing yields through increasing fertilizer use has become a burden as of recent years due to unstable climate conditions and expensive input price, where the additional fertilizer was not effectively providing higher yield. Recently, producers in North America have been interested in using intercropping to mitigate and improve returns as research in European and Asian countries have concluded that it can help decrease inputs such as fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Here in the Peace Country region, we conducted an intercropping experiment to see the effects of intercropping using crops commonly grown in the Peace region: peas, oats, and canola. Research in intercropping systems can provide a better understanding of the roles of mycorrhizae fungi in cropping systems and the provision of ecosystem services.

We hypothesize that an intercrop could 1) provide yield stability, greater yield (grain & forage) and increased grain and forage protein content with land equivalent ratio >1; 2) reduce the risk of N leakage after harvest compared with monocropping; and 3) improve net returns (with a benefit:cost ratio >1), soil fertility and health, and water use efficiency.

Alan showcasing his trial at PCBFA's 2019 Field Day at the Research Farm, August 1st, 2019


1. To assess the effectiveness of intercropping of oats, peas, and canola in increasing yield quantity and quality as both grain and forage.

2. To observe mycorrhizal abundance and colonization in the soil under different intercropping systems to determine if mycorrhizae is contributing to improved yields.