Aarhus Universitets segl

Dominate or share? - Belowground interactions under perennial-annual strip intercropping

Main subject area: Perennial cereals; grain legume; root interactions

Short project description

Strip intercropping, the simultaneous cultivation of two or more species in a distinct row arrangement, has advantages over mono-cropping for increased crop yield. However, the annual-annual intercropping systems do not fully exploit the resource use complementarity due to their similar crop phenology and root profiles. In the meantime, the use of non-grain perennials with deep root systems and longer life cycles for intercropping (e.g. lucerne) has been criticized for decreasing farm profit and land equivalent ratio (LER). Intermediate wheatgrass (IWG; Thynopyrum intermedium) is one of the few perennial crops that produce grains for human consumption. Owing to its deep root systems, IWG can provide ecosystem services, e.g. exploitation of surplus nutrients and water at depth. This master project aims to determine the resource complementarity between this perennial grain crop and the annual grain legume crop with a special focus on deep root growth and nitrogen dynamics.

Department and supervisor

Project start


Physical location of project and students work

AU Viborg

Extent and type of project

30 ECTS: Theoretical thesis based on literature studies and/or analysis of issued and edited data sets.

45 ECTS: Experimental theses in which the student is responsible for collection and analysis of his/her own original data.

Additional information

The research will be conducted on the ongoing PerennialSystemTrial at Foulumgaard at AU Viborg. The master project leverages a high throughput root quantification using a MachineLearning algorithm and tracer-based analysis (15N) for nitrogen flow. Supervision will be conducted by Eusun Han with the co-supervision of Carsten Stefan Malisch. The student will also work together with different researchers and technical staff.

Relevant articles

Crews, T. E., Carton, W., & Olsson, L. (2018). Is the future of agriculture perennial? Imperatives and opportunities to reinvent agriculture by shifting from annual monocultures to perennial polycultures. Global Sustainability, 1. https://doi.org/10.1017/sus.2018.11
Han, E., Czaban, W., Dresbøll, D. B., & Thorup-Kristensen, K. (2022). Exploitation of neighbouring subsoil for nutrient acquisition under annual-perennial strip intercropping systems. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 338, 108106. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2022.108106