Wikipedia Inga Alley Cropping

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inga_alley_cropping

 

For Inga alley cropping the trees are planted in rows (hedges) close together, with a gap, the alley, of about 4m between the rows. An initial application of rock phosphate has kept the system going for many years.

When the trees have grown, usually in about two years, the canopies close over the alley and cut off the light and so smother the weeds.

The trees are then carefully pruned. The larger branches are used for firewood. The smaller branches and leaves are left on the ground in the alleys. These rot down into a good mulch (compost). If any weeds haven’t been killed off by lack of light the mulch smothers them.

The farmer then pokes holes into the mulch and plants his crops into the holes.

The crops grow, fed by the mulch. The crops feed on the lower layers while the latest prunings form a protective layer over the soil and roots, shielding them from both the hot sun and heavy rain. This makes it possible for the roots of both the crops and the trees to stay to a considerable extent in the top layer of soil and the mulch, thus benefiting from the food in the mulch, and escaping soil pests and toxic minerals lower down. Pruning the Inga also makes its roots die back, thus reducing competition with the crops.

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