Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 24, Issue 8, pp 6973–6988 | Cite as

Relay cropping as a sustainable approach: problems and opportunities for sustainable crop production

  • Mohsin TanveerEmail author
  • Shakeel Ahmad Anjum
  • Saddam Hussain
  • Artemi Cerdà
  • Umair Ashraf
Review Article


Climate change, soil degradation, and depletion of natural resources are becoming the most prominent challenges for crop productivity and environmental sustainability in modern agriculture. In the scenario of conventional farming system, limited chances are available to cope with these issues. Relay cropping is a method of multiple cropping where one crop is seeded into standing second crop well before harvesting of second crop. Relay cropping may solve a number of conflicts such as inefficient use of available resources, controversies in sowing time, fertilizer application, and soil degradation. Relay cropping is a complex suite of different resource-efficient technologies, which possesses the capability to improve soil quality, to increase net return, to increase land equivalent ratio, and to control the weeds and pest infestation. The current review emphasized relay cropping as a tool for crop diversification and environmental sustainability with special focus on soil. Briefly, benefits, constraints, and opportunities of relay cropping keeping the goals of higher crop productivity and sustainability have also been discussed in this review. The research and knowledge gap in relay cropping was also highlighted in order to guide the further studies in future.


Crop productivity Environmental sustainability Intercropping Resource use efficiency Soil health 



The authors would like to thank the editor and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful questions and suggestions which have made this paper better.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mohsin Tanveer
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Shakeel Ahmad Anjum
    • 2
  • Saddam Hussain
    • 2
  • Artemi Cerdà
    • 3
    • 4
  • Umair Ashraf
    • 5
  1. 1.School of Land and FoodUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia
  2. 2.Department of AgronomyUniversity of Agriculture FaisalabadFaisalabadPakistan
  3. 3.Soil Erosion and Degradation Research GroupUniversity of ValènciaValènciaSpain
  4. 4.Soil Physics and Land Management GroupWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Department of Crop Science and Technology, College of AgricultureSouth China Agricultural UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China

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