Using the BioIntensive Technique of Intercropping Teff (Eragrostis tef) into Timothy to Improve the Economic Sustainability of Timothy

This project goal is to conduct and disseminate field and lab based hay production quality and economic research on timothy, a perennial cool season grass with teff, a annual warm season crop through intercropping, promoting stability and sustainability for timothy hay producers in Washington State. Intercropping timothy with teff was not successful the first or second years as we were using best management practices for timothy, which was too competitive for the teff. In 2015 we harvested timothy at one inch stubble height (normal recommendation is 3-4 inch stubble height, (Fransen and Hudson, 2005) at first cutting, which greatly slowed timothy regrowth and greatly improved stand establishment of teff into the timothy. At the optimum N rate in 2015, intercropping timothy with teff increased hay yield by 0.59 and 0.52 tons/acre and improve profitability by $117 and $104/acre for the Othello and Prosser locations, respectively. In 2015 averaged over cuttings and N rates, teff at Prosser exceeded timothy by 0.83 tons/acre. In 2015 averaged over locations and N rates, hay quality of teff compared to timothy hay was lower in protein by 1.80%, higher in neutral detergent fiber (NDF) by 7.79%, higher in NDF digestibility (NDFD)at 48 hours by 5.74%, lower in sugar content by 4.76% and had a lower relative feed quality (RFQ) by 26.6 units. Intercropped forage treatment average over locations and N rates comprised of 20.8% teff in the dry matter and had 0.45% lower protein, increased NDF by 1.33%, increased NDFD at 48 hours by 0.75%, less sugar content by 0.58% and lower relative feed quality (RFQ) by 4.2 units. The hypothesis that intercropping could have advantages was proven to be true. The advantages of intercropping include: increased yield, improved profitability, lower sugar content, increased digestibility. Intercropping disadvantages included: lower protein, higher NDF, lower RFQ in the hay. The long term success of intercropping will be dependent on the market value of intercropped hay.

Grant Information

  • Project ID: 121
  • Project Status: Complete


  • Principal Investigator(s): Norberg, S.
  • Investigator(s): Desta, K., Fransen, S., Llewellyn, D., Neibergs, S., Smith, J.
  • Grant Amount: $40,000
  • 2013 Progress Report (PDF)


  • Principal Investigator(s): Norberg, S.
  • Investigator(s): Desta, K., Fransen, S., Llewellyn, D., Neibergs, S., Smith, J.
  • 2014 Progress Report (PDF)