Alley cropping

Lucyw3088

Member
Hello, I’m designing a hypothetical mixed farm that is also good for the local ecology. One method is alley cropping, would you need to leave the alley cropping fields fallow for a season or two like with normal crops? If so, how would it work and how many fields wood you need?
 

Briar

Member
Why would you leave the alleys fallow? Incorporate cover crops in rotation and depending upon trees and stage of growth possibility of grazing if required.
 

Lucyw3088

Member
I’m researching agroforestry but unfortunately don’t know too much about farming practises themselves. The idea was to alley crop with apples trees, willow trees for bio fuel and then have cereal crop, field possibly potatoes. From what I understand, in monoculture crops the fields are rotated and left fallow. So instead of leaving it fallow between the trees, I should use cover crops instead and then rotate between how many fields, 2/3? The idea was to also have an area of silvopasture, parkland style planting with cattle grazing between the planted tree clumps. Thank you for your help and I apologise for my lack of knowledge.
 

Lucyw3088

Member
I’m researching agroforestry but unfortunately don’t know too much about farming practises themselves. The idea was to alley crop with apples trees, willow trees for bio fuel and then have cereal crop, field possibly potatoes. From what I understand, in monoculture crops the fields are rotated and left fallow. So instead of leaving it fallow between the trees, I should use cover crops instead and then rotate between how many fields, 2/3? The idea was to also have an area of silvopasture, parkland style planting with cattle grazing between the planted tree clumps. Thank you for your help and I apologise for my lack of knowledge.
Just to add to that, are cover crops required in the fields to keep the soils active if they’re already planted with the rows of trees?
 
I think you've got a fair way to go before you get a handle on this, and Im def no expert. Plenty of youtube stuff on regenerative ag.
Traditionally crops are rotated, Wheat/2nd Wheat/Barley/Rape or Wheat/Peas/Wheat/Something Else, which break the cycle of pests. Bare fallows have been used to reduce weeds by cultivating, but in the age of spraying possibly been considered a result of some sort of cockup, more are now are accidentally happening because those with heavy black grass trouble are drilling later because they need the black grass to appear and then kill it, but , like this last season, wet weather then can stop field work, so an accidental fallow.
The benefits of the row of trees are the deeper roots bringing up nutrients for the crops they live with. In the case of grass, this usually harvested by animals eating it, but they also like eating the trees, so either they need to be fenced away, or the trees need to be substantial enough to cope with a bit of browsing. Cattle and sheep love apples for instance and will break fences to get to them. Willow on the other hand seems to have benefits for livestock so is planted for their benefit.

The general idea of continuous cover, is that the soil micro organisms are fed by the roots of plants, they in turn provide an exchange of nutrients to the plant roots. If you don't have a living plant on the top, you lose your living organisms below. (These organisms are what constitute your soil carbon)

The silvopasture with cattle grazing under the trees has issues in that the nutrient deposited when the animals seek shade are concentrated away from the pasture which needs it to keep growing.

Good luck with your studies, there is stacks of info out there, half is mumbo jumbo, the other half is really useful technique, but no-one knows which bit is which.
 
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Rejuvenating swards: Which option is best?

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Written by Brian McDonnell

Maintaining grass quality during mid-season grazing is important. Farmers can maintain quality by entering ideal grazing covers of 1,300 – 1,500kg DM/ha, and grazing down to a residual of 4cm every rotation.

If you are now in a situation where cows are not cleaning out paddocks as well as they should be, leading to the development of steamy grass within the sward, here are some options.

Common options for rejuvenating swards include:

  1. Take a silage cut, probably into bales, remove the material and start again with the aftermath...
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