Grain Yield and Economic Benefit of Intercropping Barley and Faba Bean in the Highlands of Southern Ethiopia

  • Tenaw Workayehu
  • Legesse Hidoto
  • Gobeze Loha


Abstract: Farmers in the highland areas of southern Ethiopia own less cultivable land. Barley and faba bean are important crops in the southern highlands of Ethiopia. However, rapid population growth in the region, which has led to scarcity of cultivable land, is threatening cultivation of these crops. Therefore, farmers often resort to alternative ways of maximizing crop yields from the small plots of land they own through intercropping. However, little empirical information is available on the agronomic and economic benefits obtained from intercropping barley and faba bean as well as on the influence of pattern of intercropping the two crops on productivity. Thus, a study was conducted during 2011 and 2012 years to evaluate the effect of barley (Ba)-faba bean (Fb) intercrop on yield, yield related traits and economic benefit in the highlands of southern Ethiopia. The treatments consisted of planting patterns of one (1Fb), two (2Fb) and three (3Fb) rows of faba bean combined with one (1Ba), two (2Ba) and three (3Ba) rows of barley. The experiment was laid out as a randomized complete block design in a factorial arrangement with three replications per treatment. Data were collected on a number of plant parameters on both crops. The results indicated that there were significant main effects of year and planting pattern on grain, straw and total biomass yields, harvest index and net income of barley. The number of barley seeds per spike was significantly influenced by the main effect of year, and was 12% less in 2011 than in 2012. Grain yield of barley in 2011 was 67% more than in 2012 while straw and total biomass yields were 45 and 23% less, respectively. Intercropping of 1Faba bean: 1Barley yielded 2176 kg ha-1 grain, HI of 96%, LER of 1.56, system productivity index of 3013, better monetary benefit of 9056 Ethiopian birr, and additional land benefit of 36% over the control treatment. Intercropping in this pattern also produced 91% more energy and significantly more income (167%) compared to sole crop barley. Intercropping of 1Faba bean: 1Barley, 1Faba bean: 2Barley and 1Faba bean: 3Barley yielded 52 to 79% less grain of faba bean than sole faba bean. The productivity of barley-faba bean intercrop was more (LER>1) and varied between 32 and 56%. In conclusion, this study indicated that farmers with subsistence and low-input farming can benefit more from intercropping of one row of faba bean combined with one, two and three rows of barley in terms of productivity and economic benefit.


Keywords: Land equivalent ratio; Land benefit; Monetary benefit; Planting pattern; System productivity index; Row ratio

Author Biographies

Tenaw Workayehu

Hawassa Agricultural Research Center,  Southern Ethiopia.

Legesse Hidoto

Hawassa Agricultural Research Center, Southern Ethiopia.

Gobeze Loha
Hawassa Agricultural Research Center, Southern Ethiopia.


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