Alley Cropping Benefits Both Humans and The Environment

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Alley cropping is the cultivation of food, forage or specialty crops between rows of trees. It is a larger version of intercropping or companion planting conducted over a longer time scale. Alley cropping can provide profitable opportunities for row crop farmers, hardwood timber growers, nut growers and Christmas tree growers.

Alley cropping benefits both humans and the environment

  • Income diversification. Crop production during the years before nut trees come into bearing or hardwood timber is harvested creates cash flow and diversifies farm income, thereby improving the return o­n long-term investments in trees.
  • Marginal land improvement. By planting rows of nut or timber trees o­n land where annual crop production is low due to erosion or other limitations, marginal croplands may be converted to higher value woodlands.
  • Shelter. Rows of trees reduce wind speed, thereby controlling wind erosion. They also create sheltered microclimates that improves the yield and quality of crops growing in the alleys.
  • Wildlife. Alley cropping increases the biodiversity of cropland which creates new habitat for wildlife.