Intercropping systems contain two or more species simultaneously in close proximity. Due to contrasting features of the component crops, quantification of the light environment and photosynthetic productivity remains challenging to achieve, however it is an essential component of productivity.
Burgess et al. combine three-dimensional reconstruction with ray tracing to provide a novel, accurate method of exploring the light environment within an intercrop that does not require difficult measurements of light interception and data-intensive manual reconstruction. The presented method provides new opportunities for calculating potential productivity, enables the quantification of dynamic physiological characteristics of crops, and the prediction of new productive combinations of previously untested crops.