The Three Sisters: A Traditional Intercropping Agricultural Method

An important traditional form of agriculture is the use of intercropping strategies, sometimes called mixed cropping or milpa agriculture, where different crops are planted together, rather than in big monoculture fields as farmers do today. The Three Sisters (maize, beans, and squash) is what Native American farmers called a classic form of mixed cropping, and archaeological evidence has shown that these three American domesticates have been grown together for perhaps 5,000 years.

Growing maize (a tall grass), beans (a nitrogen-fixing legume) and squash (a low-lying creeper plant) together was a stroke of environmental genius, the benefits of which practice have been studied by crop scientists for decades.


Read the full article by K. Kris Hirst on the website of ThoughtCo from May 30, 2019.

Photo credit: Photo prise par Isabelle Fragniere / CC BY-SA (

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