Alley Cropping can stop slash and burn agriculture. With the planting of nitrogen fixing trees in hedgerows like Inga, Madre de Cacao and Maringa, and the planting of crops in between these rows in the alleys, the longer the trees are there, the healthier the soil and the larger the crop yields.
During the planting phase, these trees are pruned. The prunings used as green manure or mulch improves the organic matter in the soil and provides nutrients especially nitrogen and phosphorus. The rows are allowed to grow freely to shade the inter rows when there are no crops. This reduces weed growth. Then as planting begins again, the trees are pruned. The prunings can also be used as firewood.
Alley Cropping is successful in Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Columbia and Panama in Central America. For more information, try these websites:
Benefits of alley cropping
Reduces the need for chemical fertilizers
Reduces soil erosion
Increased crop yield
Continued use of the same plot of land; overtime the land becomes more and more productive
Allows farmer to begin growing high-value cash crops
Ends Slash & Burn Agriculture
Ends Rainforest Destruction
What is the impact of alley cropping?
Alley cropping allows the farmer to use the same plot of land year after year, ending slash and burn agriculture. As the soil improves, the farmer is able to grow high value cash crops, which improves their food security. The longer the land is farmed with these nitrogen fixing trees like the Inga species, the more fertile and the more productive the land becomes.
The Inga trees not only enrich the soil, they provide mulch that suppresses weeds and fertilizes the soil, firewood when they are pruned at the beginning of the planting of the crop and they provide edible fruit.
When planted on a slope, they help end soil erosion and help reduce flooding.
We at Maya First hope to share ideas that are working in other parts of Central America. We hope to work with the community to set up a farm demonstration plot to show what Alley Cropping is and the many benefits it has; preventing erosion and flooding.
Maya First hopes to set up an Alley Cropping demonstration plot in town. As this becomes a reality, we hope to start a nursery of Inga seedlings to provide to the community to encourage Alley Cropping.