| By R.E. Rhoades & A.J. Bebbington | Published in Field Crops Research, vol. 25 (Nov): 145-156 |

Abstract: This paper examines traditional intercropping from two points of view: (1) scientists’ explanations of causes; and (2) farmers’ rationales. Ecological (e.g., resilience, stability, and diversity) and economic (e.g., risk reduction, efficient use of land and labour) explanations are first explored. Farmers’ rationales for mixed-cropping potato are then studied in four areas along the eastern slopes of the Andes from 4000 to 800 meters above sea level. Four tendencies were identified in the Peru transect: (1) intercropping increases with decreasing altitude and higher temperatures; (2) main agronomic benefit of intercropping at lower elevations is shading; (3) farmers tend not to mix-crop for commercial production, but to mix for subsistence; and (4) farmers attempt to increase both land and labour efficiency through intercropping. Adaptive research and technology development programs must take into account that farmers make intercropping decisions based on farm-level, location-specific demands.