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Article

Intercropping Practices in Mediterranean Mandarin Orchards from an Environmental and Economic Perspective

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Irrigation Design and Management Research Group, Department of Agricultural Engineering, Technical University of Cartagena, Paseo Alfonso XIII 48, 30203 Cartagena, Spain
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Agricultural Economics Research Group, Department of Business Economics, Technical University of Cartagena, Paseo Alfonso XIII 48, 30203 Cartagena, Spain
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Sustainable Use, Management, and Reclamation of Soil and Water Research Group, Department of Agricultural Engineering, Technical University of Cartagena, Paseo Alfonso XIII 48, 30203 Cartagena, Spain
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Gaetano Pandino
Agriculture 2022, 12(5), 574; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12050574
Received: 25 March 2022 / Revised: 9 April 2022 / Accepted: 14 April 2022 / Published: 19 April 2022
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Systems and Management)
Crop diversification is becoming increasingly important for preserving soil and ecosystems’ health and, subsequently, crop productivity and sustainability. Intercropping practices adopted in monocultural woody crops, with herbaceous crops covering the otherwise bare alleyways, foster ecological interactions and can provide both environmental and economic advantages. In this study, intercropping practices were implemented in a traditional mandarin orchard in south-eastern Spain, which was monitored for three years to assess their impact on the environmental footprint and profitability. The footprint was quantified with a cradle-to-gate life cycle assessment (LCA), while the costs and revenues assessment was based on materials, labor, and machinery used in the trial. The calculated LCA indicators evidenced that, although the cultivated surface area increases with the integration of the intercrops (fava bean, purslane, cowpea, and barley/vetch mix), this does not imply any additional detrimental effects (resource depletion, acidification, eutrophication, global warming). The economic analysis showed that while intercrops may involve additional production costs, the correct choice of intercrops, purslane, and fava bean, in this case, can reduce the market risks for farmers. Overall, this study shows that positive environmental and economic impacts are to be expected of co-integrated herbaceous crops within the same field as mandarin trees. View Full-Text
Keywords: crop diversification; agro-silvicultural systems; woody crops sustainability; life cycle assessment; farming market risks crop diversification; agro-silvicultural systems; woody crops sustainability; life cycle assessment; farming market risks
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MDPI and ACS Style

Martin-Gorriz, B.; Zabala, J.A.; Sánchez-Navarro, V.; Gallego-Elvira, B.; Martínez-García, V.; Alcon, F.; Maestre-Valero, J.F. Intercropping Practices in Mediterranean Mandarin Orchards from an Environmental and Economic Perspective. Agriculture 2022, 12, 574. https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12050574

AMA Style

Martin-Gorriz B, Zabala JA, Sánchez-Navarro V, Gallego-Elvira B, Martínez-García V, Alcon F, Maestre-Valero JF. Intercropping Practices in Mediterranean Mandarin Orchards from an Environmental and Economic Perspective. Agriculture. 2022; 12(5):574. https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12050574

Chicago/Turabian Style

Martin-Gorriz, Bernardo, José A. Zabala, Virginia Sánchez-Navarro, Belén Gallego-Elvira, Víctor Martínez-García, Francisco Alcon, and José Francisco Maestre-Valero. 2022. "Intercropping Practices in Mediterranean Mandarin Orchards from an Environmental and Economic Perspective" Agriculture 12, no. 5: 574. https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12050574

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