Design of Alley Cropping System in UK

Alley cropping system with Walnut trees and cereals in rotation.

Case specifications

Climate: Cold Temperate

Location: United Kingdom

Project type: System design and digital twin set up for silvoarable system

Transition type: Integration of nut and fruit-trees on arable land

System: Implemented

Alley cropping system model visualization. Trees are shown in row and the alley with cash crops are shown in light blue.

Design of alley cropping system

As alley cropping combines several elements into one production system it is important to define the spatial arrangement of these elements to make sure they complement each other when it comes to the implementation and management of the system. In the design of the system we look at the following aspects:

  • The holistic context of the field including climate, current assets/machinery and current production system.
  • Assessment of suitable species for the ecological and financial context of the farming enterprise.
  • Analysis of seasonal workloads in the system to evaluate compatibility of the different elements.
  • Assessed expected performance in different successional stages of the agroforestry system.

Alley cropping system applied on field with headland and row alignment defined. Tree strips are blue, alleys are light blue and trees are green.

Layout of alley cropping system on the field

With a system model defined we looked at the actual project site and further defined site specific parameters to start actual layout masterplan.

  • Mapped out the field using existing GIS boundaries for the property.
  • Adjusted headland radius and alley width to match existing machinery.
  • Found the most optimal row alignments and tree row/grass strip widths.
  • Assessed total size of both cash crop sub-areas and tree grass strips under trees.
  • Calculated final tree count.

Cash-flow budgets and financial analysis on Alley Cropping system.

Generation of cash-flow budgets and financial analysis for alley cropping system

With the initial system design and layout in place, we explored more detailed elements such as specific management activities and plant material. Once these we defined we looked practical and financial aspects. This was based on:

  • Site specific implementation activities such as site prep and sub-soiling.
  • Specific parameters for selected varieties such as plant material and establishment activities.
  • Evaluated suited management activities for the agroforestry system such as pruning/cutting and harvest methods.
  • Forecasted yields and cash-flow budgets based on context, system, establishment and management.
  • Created financial analysis over a period of 20 years for the speific system.
Close-up of georeferenced digital assets (trees), tree strips and alleys.

Create digital twin and export for implementation georeferences

With system design, layout and budgets all completed we made preparations for the implementation of the project. To support accurate and timely implementation we assisted with:

  • Creation of digital twin of production system with individual rows, sub-areas and tree assets with unique georeferences for precise implementation and for later use with the RegenWorks Analytics Software.
  • Logging of tree planting and other implementation activities with exact location of either individual trees or rows.

Get started with agroforestry today!

Interested in learning more about agroforestry and exploring it’s potential on your farm? Then wait no longer, get started with agroforestry today!