Intercropping Cassava and Legumes for Local Food Security in Florida and Puerto Rico

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2023: $11,459.00
Projected End Date: 08/31/2025
Grant Recipient: University of Florida
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Gregory MacDonald
University of Florida


  • Agronomic: legumes
  • Vegetables: cassava


  • Crop Production: crop improvement and selection, intercropping, nutrient cycling
  • Pest Management: weed management

    Proposal abstract:

    Cassava is a root crop grown throughout the tropics, often in intercropping systems with legumes. Many Americans in the Southern Region consume cassava regularly, especially those of Caribbean, Latin American, and African descent. However, while subtropical regions such as Florida and Puerto Rico have a suitable climate and environment for cassava production, most cassava eaten in the US is imported. To improve local food security and access to culturally valuable foods, this project aims to investigate the potential for cassava cultivation in the US, and the potential of intercropping cassava with legumes to form a resilient cropping system for small farmers. Four grain legumes (peanut, soybean, cowpea, and Bambara groundnut) will be tested for compatibility with cassava in North-Central Florida, and factorial experiments will test the effects of intercropped legumes on weed pressure and nutrient cycling in cassava-legume systems. The results of these experiment will indicate which of these legumes, if any, is most suitable for intercropping with cassava in the US, and will inform the creation of extension documents on cassava production in the US and management decisions related to weeding and residue management.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Objective 1: Assess the potential for cassava production in Florida, with and without legume intercropping, to inform best practices for cassava planting, management and harvest in the United States.

    Objective 2: Quantify the potential benefits of intercropped legumes for weed management and nutrient cycling in cassava-legume cropping systems in the United States.

    Rationale: Cassava is grown widely throughout the tropics, often intercropped with legumes, and is a familiar food for many Americans, especially those of Latin American and African origin. However, most cassava consumed in the US is grown elsewhere, even though the potential exists for cassava production in the subtropical US, particularly in South and Central Florida. The grain legumes to be tested in intercropping with cassava are peanut, soybean, cowpea, and Bambara groundnut, all of which have the short growth duration suitable for cassava intercropping and potential for use as food and forage. Bambara groundnut is an underutilized legume that, along with cassava, forms the basis of many traditional dishes for Americans of African origin. Identifying and recommending optimal combinations of cassava and legumes necessitates understanding the mechanisms by which these crops interact when grown together, so assessing the weed management and nutrient cycling effects of intercropped legumes is crucial for developing cassava production. Assessing cassava-legume intercropping systems in the US and quantifying the potential benefits of intercropped legumes fills provides scientific information that is currently lacking for farmers growing cassava at any scale in the US.


    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.