Alley cropping is a great Agroforestry design to increase supplies of plant biomass (roots and shoots) and root exudates to our soil ecosystem.

Alley cropping also helps with drought-proofing and provides opportunities for us to diversify our income streams by using the alleys to grow additional crops.

Here’s an example showing winter wheat crop between Hazel trees at the Wakelyns in England

Alley Cropping in EnglandAnd in Africa, alley cropping maize between young Gliricidia trees (

© World Agroforestry Centre, ICRAF)

alley cropping of Gliricdia with maize Here’s Adam Collins showing how he is using this agroforestry solution to integrate trees with his commercial potato and garlic crops.

Getting Practical with Alley Cropping

To get the benefits of alley cropping and other types of agroforestry – Grow from your strengths.

Design your alleys to suit your latitude, climate, and other growing conditions. Adjust the width of your alleys, space in between the alleys, and the height and density of your tree canopy to suit your conditions. Growing in temperate areas and other higher latitudes, use wider spacings and north-south orientation to maximise sunlight. You can also use other orientations depending on your priorities. For example, at right angles to the wind or across your slope.

The Agroforestry Handbook is a great practical resource. The authors are leading researchers and practitioners with decades of experience in agroforestry from the UK and around the world.

 

[1] Wendy Seabrook, 2019, Eco-logical Farming Handbook, Published by Learning from Nature

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