Mixed grain intercropping has become a commercially significant practice for the production of grains, oilseeds, and pulses on the Canadian Prairies and US Northern Plains. Mixed grain intercropping entails growing two or more cash crops together, harvesting at the same time, separating post-harvest and marketing the crops separately. This form intercropping is one way of increasing cash crop diversity. While intercropping has various historical and current uses in the region, mixed grain intercropping is a relatively new strategy for cash crop diversification. Most innovation in mixed grain intercropping practices across the region has been driven by farmers themselves during the past decade.
While mixed grain intercropping may not be appropriate in all situations, it does have the potential to provide a number of agronomic and financial benefits when compared to growing grains, oilseeds, and pulses as monocrops. Proven mixed grain intercrop combinations include chickpea-flax, pea-canola, or wheat-flax. The oat-pea combination is less commonly grown and therefore its distinct advantages and disadvantages are not as clear. In 2020, a team of researchers from South East Research Farm, General Mills, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada conducted a study focused specifically on the oat-pea mixed intercrop combination. The study uses farmer interviews, on-farm trials, and small plot trials to better understand how this combination is being used in production systems across the Canadian Prairies and Northern US Plains.
Study findings were released in public report (link) in late May 2021. The report is meant to be a resource to individuals and organizations interested in the ways in which the oat-pea combination or mixed grain intercropping more broadly can be integrated into production ag. systems.