Developing intercropping systems with camelina to increase the yield and quality parameters of local underutilized crops
There is clear evidence of benefits from crop diversification on soil and ecosystem, especially in organic farming. Therefore, the SCOOP project is focused on innovative and diversified organic intercropping systems aimed at preserving ecosystem and agricultural land integrity, biodiversity, and food/feed security. The new intercropping will be based on camelina, a multi-purpose oilseed crop highly tolerant to drought and cold and able to achieve sustained yields under rainfed conditions.
Camelina is an oil crop highly tolerant to drought and cold and able to achieve sustained yields on lower quality soils thanks to its fast germination, wide sowing period (from fall to spring) and ability to compete with weeds. Camelina seeds contain 35–40 percent of oil and are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), i.e. α-linolenic acid (omega-3), and tocopherols (Vitamin- E). Camelina cake represents a valuable co-product rich of essential amino acids, particularly those that contain sulfur which is usually lacking in pulses. Research already proved that camelina could be appropriate candidate for intercropping systems, which strongly increase diversity of soil microbes, flora and fauna, with consequent positive impacts on crop productivity and biodiversity.
The SCOOP project aims at identifying the best organic camelina intercropping systems with local crop varieties like pulses, ancient cereals or herbs and their demonstration. The project covers a broad range of pedo-climates, e.g. continental (Poland), pannonian (Bulgaria) and mediterranean (Italy and Türkiye).
Intercropping systems could provide relevant ecosystem services due to their self-contained symbiotic nitrogen fixation ability (in case of legumes), phosphorus remobilization promoted by mycorrhiza and soil bacteria, both leading to less external nitrogen and phosphorus inputs and energy consumption, improved biodiversity, and a general soil improvement. Therefore, camelina intercropping can be a win-win solution allowing:
Michał Krzyżaniak, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Poland, email@example.com