Alley Cropping Enterprises

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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 enterprises are:

  • Hardwood timber or nut trees: Hardwoods such as black walnut or pecan may be combined with annual crops such as corn or soybeans.
  • Forage crops can be cultivated between tree rows for harvest or livestock grazing, or shrubs palatable to livestock can be grown for fodder, e.g. tagasaste.
  • Possible alley crops also include specialty crops, e.g. herbal or medicinal, perennials such as conifers for Christmas trees, and even nursery stock, e.g. using the Pot-in-Pot system.
  • Combine specialty crops with conventional field crops: Another alternative is to plant rows of perennial specialty crops within a field of tall field crops such as corn to diversify income while maintaining annual crop production.