Soil fertility is one of the major crop production constraints in low-input and subsistence farming. Besides, climate change has significantly affected crop production in southern Ethiopia. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of barley-faba bean intercrop on growth, productivity and economic benefit of the companion crops for sustainable production and reduce climate risk in the highland areas of southern Ethiopia. Planting patterns of 1Fb:1Ba; 1Fb:2Ba, 1Fb:3Ba, 2Fb:1Ba, 2Fb:2Ba, 2Fb:3Ba and 3Fb:1Ba, 3Fb:2Ba; 3Fb:3Ba were laid out in randomized complete block design with three replications during 2011 and 2012 cropping seasons. There was a significant effect of year variation and planting pattern on grain, straw and total biomass yields, and harvest index of barley and net income but no interaction effect. Variation in season significantly affected seeds spike-1 and was 13% less in 2011. Grain yield of barley in 2011 was 68% more while straw and total biomass yields were 45 and 23% less, respectively. Planting pattern of 1Fb:1Ba yielded 21% more than sole crop barley and produced 56% more benefit, system productivity index of 3734, and land benefit of 36%. A yield advantage of 32 to 56% more was obtained from intercrop. Intercropping produced 70% more energy compared with each sole crop. This study indicated that farmers with subsistence and low-input farming in southern Ethiopia can benefit more in terms of soil fertility, weed suppression, productivity and economic benefit. Intercropping was also more efficient in resource use and leads to ecological intensification of cereal systems of the farmers. In addition, under changing climatic condition farmers can harvest one crop if the other crop fails thus sustaining production and food security. Key words. barley; Ethiopia; faba bean; intercropping; monetary benefit; net income; planting pattern; row ratio; row arrangement..
Keywords: barley; Ethiopia; faba bean; intercropping; monetary benefit; net income; planting pattern; row ratio; row arrangement..