ALLEY CROPPING
AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE

ALLEY CROPPING

This is a system which involves the growing of food crops in spaces between hedge-rows of trees or shrubs, which must undergo regular pruning every five or six weeks. The species of plants that can be used for alley cropping include: nitrogen fixing Gliricidia and Leucaena. The spacing of these plants is put at 4 metres between rows, to allow enough space for the growing of food crops. The soil nutrients are recycled through the decomposition of the organic residue.

 

Advantages of alley cropping

  1. The pruned leaves help in the feeding of ruminants in the dry season as fodder.
  2. The branches or stems are cut and used as yam stake and firewood.
  3. The shades provided by the plants help to suppress weed growth.
  4. The pruned leaves also serve as mulching materials.
  5. The shrubs serve as a barrier when planted across the slope in the control of erosion.
  6. Alley cropping serves as an alternative to bush fallowing.
  7. The nitrogen fixing plants fix nitrogen for the food crops.

 

Disadvantages of alley cropping

  1. The plants used can easily smother the growing food crops, if they are not pruned in time.
  2. Nitrogen supply may be in short fall to the crops, if non-nitrogen fixing plants are used.
  3. The system may be difficult to practise on a large scale.
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