Food security is threatened by the combined pressures of increasing populations and climate change. Agricultural land is vulnerable to overexploitation and environmental change. Within this review, we identify the role of multiple cropping systems as an adaptation method towards climate change. Intercropping, the relay or simultaneous cultivation of two or more crops, and agroforestry, the incorporation of trees on at least 10% of agricultural land, provides an alternative cropping practice which can provide many advantages over industrial sole cropping. Examples from these systems are given to indicate how multiple cropping can provide increased yield, stability, ecosystem services and societal benefits when adopted. We also discuss instances where multiple cropping systems may be maladaptive or instances where desired benefits may not be achieved. Finally, we highlight the important considerations or constraints limiting the adoption of alternate systems and indicate how modelling approaches can be used to reduce the uncertainty of altering agricultural systems. This review challenges the traditional concept of how to increase industrial crop yields whilst maintaining sustainability. Future research should be aimed at overcoming the constraints limiting adoption of alternative cropping systems to revolutionise global crop production.
Burgess, A. J., Correa Cano, M. E., & Parkes, B. (2022). The deployment of intercropping and agroforestry as adaptation to climate change. Crop and Environment, 1(2), 145-160. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.crope.2022.05.001