Alley cropping
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  • Welcome. This presentation will cover one of the five recognized agroforestry practices currently being adopted and used in the US and its territories – alley cropping.
  • This presentation will define alley cropping, describe some of its major benefits, explain basic design considerations, and identify selected potential crops and plants that are or can be used in an alley cropping system.
  • Alley cropping is an agroforestry practice. But what is agroforestry? Although there are many definitions on agroforestry one of the simplest definitions is the intentional combining of agriculture and working trees to create sustainable farming systems. In agroforestry systems, trees or shrubs and their products are intentionally used within agricultural systems, livestock, or forests and are cultured with woody plants (e.g. trees and shrubs). Knowledge, careful selection of species, and good management of trees and crops are needed to optimize the production and positive effects within the system and to minimize negative competitive effects. Agroforestry systems can be advantageous over conventional agricultural and forest production methods through increased productivity, improved economic benefits and social outcomes and the enhancedecological goods and services provided. This system is used world-wide today.
  • What is alley cropping? Again there are many definitions for this term in use today but basically alley cropping is the planting of trees or shrubs in two or more sets of single or multiple rows with agronomic, horticultural, or forage crops cultivated in the alleys between the rows of woody plants. This approach is sometimes also referred to as intercropping. The foundation for alley cropping dates back to 17th century (perhaps earlier) Europe and Asia. Even earlier use of this concept occurred with many Native American groups. This concept was brought to North America where most of the earlyemphasis and research focused on pecan and black walnut alley cropping or intercropping applications. Today research is expanding into other systems. There are many other numerous potential tree, shrub, and crop combinations. Alley cropping can be used on any lands where crops or forages are grown and adapted trees or shrubs are available to provide either economic and/or environmental benefits to the field. In many instances, alley cropping can be used to convert marginal cropland to a permanent land use cover that incorporates Working Trees. In other cases alley cropping can be designed for both long term crop or forage production with tree production.
  • Alley cropping is not just crops and trees randomly growing in a field – it is more that, it’s a system that is intentional, integrated, and interactive.
  • Whatare the benefits of an alley cropping system? Working Trees in an alley cropping system cycle nutrients from deeper in the soil profile by shedding organic matter on the surface as leafy and woody litter or 'green manure'. Litter rebuilds a soil's structure making it less erodible and more able to absorb and hold water. Alley cropping can also yield other products such as vegetables,bioenergy feedstock, and fodder. They create a more favorable growing conditions for the alley (intercrops)crops by shielding them from drying winds and enhancing microclimates. Alley cropping systems planted on slopes, anchor the soil, trap chemicals, and form terraces, preventing the loss of precious topsoil by heavy rains and the overland flow of water. In addition alley cropping creates diversity in habitat structure for wildlife including birds, mammals, and beneficial insects.
  • Because alley cropping is a layered system that uses vertical as well as horizontal spaces, land owners can integrate a variety of different crops which increases crop diversity and improves economic returns compared to stand alone systems. This allows production of annual crops for needed cash flow while at the same time growing longer-term, woody plant derived investments. In addition, because of the vertical, layered system structure, the system can allow two or more annual crops to be grown on the same acreage such as a forage or row crop and nut or fruit crops. Finally multiple crops create economic diversity and this helps reduce financial risk.
  • US forestlands currently fix about 250 million metric tons of atmospheric carbon each year. With terrestrial ecosystems, the soil stores the greatest amount of soil carbon and due to past agriculture activities much of this carbon has been lost. Restoring soil organic carbon on depleted soils is the fastest way to sequester carbon. Adding a tree component to the management of the land increases the potential of carbon storage. US cropland can sequester about 75-200 million metric tons of atmospheric carbon per year by using current best management practices. US grazing land can sequester 30-90 million metric tons of atmospheric carbon annually by controlled grazing, fire management, and by use of fertilizers and improved cultivars. Alley Cropping adds the woody dimension to accumulate long term above ground biomass (carbon) storage to cropland or grasslands in addition to adding soil organic matter(carbon).
  • The tree roots travel much deeper than the annual crops for their moisture and nutrients. In fact, a mathematical model developed for the Victoria Road site in Oregon has predicted that nitrate leaving the rooting zone is reduced by 50% when compared to a barley crop without trees. In addition, tree roots can intercept crop nutrients not utilized by the annual crop, that would otherwise leach down into the ground water.
  • Alley cropping improves wildlife habitat by providing food and cover through a diversity of plants; creating vertical habitat structure; improving pollinator habitat; and building travel corridors for wildlife movement to connect to other food, cover, or water resources. To maximize wildlife benefits: Utilize native species that mirror those you would find in the natural ecosystem when possible. Select species that provide cover and food. Utilizea mixture of trees and shrubs to help provide vertical structure to the habitat. For most wildlife, wider is generally better. Also connect the woody rows to areas of other important habitat if possible.
  • Alley cropping can be used on any lands where crops or forages are grown and adapted trees or shrubs are available to provide either economic and/or environmental benefits to the field. In some instances, alley cropping can be used to convert marginal cropland to a permanent forest cover. In other cases alley cropping can be designed for both long term crop or forage production with tree production. Competition for light, water and nutrients between the tree and the intercropped species not only affects the yields of the alley crop but also the growth of the trees. Three critical design considerations for any alley cropping system are the light requirements for the crop or forage to be grown in the alley way, the amount of root competition between crops and the type and size of the equipment that will be used. Consideration should be given to using multiples of the widest field equipment width as the guide for determining alley widths.
  • Trees and shrubs used in alley cropping systems are usually selected because they have a combination of one or more of the following traits: marketable, yields an annual or periodic commercial product (wood, nuts or fruit), appropriate shade for the alley crop, minimal roots at soil surface to interfere with alley crop, adapted to site and soils, foliage residue does not interfere with alley crop, and growth requirements complement the alley crop.
  • There are a numerous potential trees that can and are being used in alley cropping systems. The type of tree varies from geographic region and the available markets that are present.
  • As with plants in the woody sets, the alley way crops are open to almost any crop. Major crop groups that can be used include row or cereal crops, forage crops, specialty crops, and biomass crops.
  • Where is there more information on alley cropping? A number of web sites are available to provide more detailed information on alley cropping systems. Here are a few: USDA National Agroforestry Center, The Center for Agroforestry, Association for Temperate Agroforestry, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Alley cropping Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Sohail Ilyas UNIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURE FAISALABAD PAKISTAN
  • 2. Alley Cropping AN AGROFORESTRY PRACTICE
  • 3. Presentation Objectives 3  Define alley cropping  Describe the benefits  Explain the basic design considerations  Identify potential crops and species Alley Cropping
  • 4. What is Agroforestry? 4 …the intentional combining of agriculture and working trees to create sustainable farming systems. Forest farming Alley cropping Alley Cropping
  • 5. What is Alley Cropping? 5 … the planting of trees in two or more sets of single or multiple rows with agronomic, horticultural, or forage crops cultivated in the alleys between the rows of woody plants. Poplar and wheat Alley Cropping
  • 6. Alley Cropping is not….. 6 Corn with two pecans Alley Cropping
  • 7. Why use Alley Cropping? 7  Improves crop diversity, and economic returns  Increases net carbon storage in the soil and vegetation  Improves utilization and recycling of soil nutrients  Provides or enhances wildlife habitat Alley Cropping
  • 8. Benefits 8  Improve Crop Diversity, and Economic Returns • Allows production of annual crops for needed cash flow while at the same time growing longer term woody investments. • Allows two annual crops to be grown on the same acreage such as a forage or row crop and nut or fruit crops • Allows crop diversity which reduces risk Alley Cropping
  • 9. Benefits 9  Increases net carbon storage in the soil and vegetation • Roots, crop residue, leaves and forage add to soil carbon • Tree component adds to total potential carbon stored on site through long term sequestration in the above ground and below ground biomass Alley Cropping
  • 10. Benefits 10  Improves utilization and recycling of soil nutrients • Tree roots are generally deeper than crop roots • Nutrients and chemicals that pass through crop root zone are intercepted by trees • Nutrients are utilized by the trees and recycled back to the soil surface by leaf drop Alley Cropping
  • 11. Benefits 11  Stops Soil Erosion    Trees stop soil erosion Control the speed of water Control wind erosion Alley Cropping
  • 12. Benefits 12  Provides or enhances wildlife habitat • Provides food and cover through a diversity of plants • Creates vertical habitat structure • Improves pollinator foraging and nesting habitat • Builds travel corridors for wildlife movement to connect to other food, cover, or water resources Alley Cropping
  • 13. Design Considerations 13  Light requirement for the crop or forage to be grown in the alley way  Root Competition between crops  Type and size of the equipment being used Tree Species Shade Produced Root Competition Black walnut Low Low Pecan Medium Medium Popular Medium High Pine High Medium-high Alley Cropping
  • 14. Tree Criteria for Alley Cropping 14  Marketable  Yields annual or periodic commercial product      (wood, nuts or fruit) Appropriate shade for the alley crop Minimal roots at soil surface Adapted to site and soils Foliage residue does not interfere with alley crop Growth requirements complement alley crop Alley Cropping
  • 15. Potential Trees 15  Walnut  Pecan Pine  Pine  Poplar Tropical:  Coffee  Coconut Palm  Papaya Coffee Walnut Alley Cropping
  • 16. Potential Alley Way Crops 16  Row/cereal crops (corn, soybeans, milo, wheat)  Forage crops (legumes, grasses)  Specialty crops (vegetables, flowers) Pecans and hay Alley Cropping
  • 17. For Additional Information 17 Where is there more information on alley cropping? A number of web sites are available to provide more detailed information on alley cropping systems. Here are a few :  USDA National Agroforestry Center http://www.unl.edu/nac/alleycropping.htm  The Center for Agroforestry http://www.centerforagroforestry.org/practices/ac.php  Association for Temperate Agroforestry http://www.aftaweb.org/alley_cropping.php  The Overstory http://agroforestry.net/overstory/osprev.html Alley Cropping
  • 18. 18 Thank You Alley Cropping