Establishing the Value of Flower Companions in Cucurbits

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2018: $7,500.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2020
Grant Recipient: Genuine Faux Farm
Region: North Central
State: Iowa
Project Coordinator:
Rob Faux
Genuine Faux Farm


  • Fruits: melons
  • Vegetables: squash


  • Crop Production: cropping systems, intercropping, pollination, pollinator habitat
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement

    Proposal summary:

    Most cucurbits rely heavily on pollinator services to produce sufficient yield for a profitable operation. Many monocropping designs rely only on the attraction of the cucurbit flowers to bring pollinators to the field. This study is based on the hypothesis that intercropping plants within the cucurbit production system will increase pollinator services and thus, increase yield. This farm has shown "proof of concept" that non-cash crop plantings can result in higher yields without significant cost increase. However, it has not been shown that these changes are season independent. A study with a control plot versus a treatment plot would provide evidence that there is season independent difference.

    This study hopes to provide evidence that a diverse cropping system in not only possible from a practice and profit standpoint, but it is also beneficial to threatened pollinator populations.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Design an on-farm research project that is a simple control/treatment with two time replications (two seasons).
    2. Establish differences in yield for cucurbits depending on the presence, or lack, of pollinator attracting companion
    3. Determine if there is a difference in pollinator presence between the control and
    4. Determine if there is improved survival for young cucurbit
    5. Establish cost and labor differences between the two planting
    6. Share results through field days or conference presentations. One opportunity could be with Practical Farmers of Iowa and another could be with the Iowa Organic
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.