How to Create a Low-Input, High-Revenue System with Wide-Row Intercropping

Seed Wheat Early

For those following a corn-wheat-soybean rotation like Mauck, the relay intercropping system technically starts with corn when you select your hybrid. Mauck recommends using an early maturing hybrid so you can get the wheat in earlier and allow it to capitalize on tillers.

Keep the Rows Wide, Plant in Twins

To make this system work, you have to plant in wide rows.

Reduce Your Seeding Rate

The main disadvantage with trying intercropping in single rows is that you have to increase the seeding rate to fill in the canopy in that individual row, which eliminates one of the input savings Mauck has reaped from the system.

Focus on Soybeans

The same is not true for wheat, however. Mauck says the key to economically succeeding with this system is to focus more on driving yield in the higher-priced crop, which in this case is soybeans. High-yielding wheat is not the focus. Instead, the crop is there to help the soybeans perform as well as possible.

Faster Canopy, Less Herbicide Use

Fast canopy closure is also key for Mauck’s second input savings — herbicide.

Band Commercial Fertilizer

While Mauck doesn’t need to use commercial fertilizer, he says those using it can still adopt this system and reap the same benefits he’s experiencing, just by having roots in the ground year-round.

Harvesting Wheat

The benefit of using this system in 60-inch rows is that because combines are set on 120 inches, Mauck can just drive down the wheat rows during harvest. This avoids having to invest in new equipment like skinny tires.

What About Corn?

Mauck’s next cash crop after the relay soybeans is corn. He’s kept polycropping at a lower scale on his corn crop, but plans on doing everything in this system in a few years.

Final Tips for Getting Started

Mauck always advises other farmers to start small with this system and remember the importance of wide rows with intercropping.

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