Alley Cropping Demo at Farm Progress Show - U of I Extension

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Alley Cropping Demo at Farm Progress Show

This article was originally published on August 4, 2017 and expired on August 31, 2017. It is provided here for archival purposes and may contain dated information.

This year at 2017 Farm Progress Show (FPS) in Decatur, August 29 - 31, the University of Illinois in partnership with the Savanna Institute and Agricultural Watershed Institute will be hosting a demonstration plot featuring an innovative alley cropping system. Visitors to the show can find the demonstration located on 12th Progress Street in Progress City.

The plot shows apple trees and aronia berries planted in two rows with a wide alley planting of narrow row soybeans. Nearby are specimen plantings of these other high-value crops for people to see the other possible planting alternatives.

The demonstration is a product of the research done by the Agroforestry for Food research group ( at the University of Illinois. Dr. Sarah Taylor Lovell, Crop Sciences Department, is one of the members leading this research. One of their research goals is to develop cropping systems for use on environmental-sensitive marginal lands where soil erosion and water quality issues are a concern.

From their research, they have found that these areas are typically the lower productive areas of corn and soybean fields. The new cropping system utilizes high-value perennial crops such as nut and fruit trees; and berry bushes and brambles planted in widely spaced rows with the goal of providing more income per acre than previous conventional crops. In the wide alley area between rows is a planting of more conventional crops such as small grains, or forages. Since the high-value crops take several years to reach full production, the alley crops provide annual income for these acres until that time. 

Besides the potential for increased income per acre, another benefit of this cropping system is the environmental benefits it provides. The environmental benefits include reduced soil loss, wildlife habitat, improved water quality and soil health.

If you are interested in more information on using high-value perennial cropping systems, please contact the Agroforestry for Food group, Sarah Taylor Lovell, For more information on the alley cropping demonstration plot at the Farm Progress Show, contact Doug Gucker, University of Illinois Extension, or 217-877-6042.

Source: Douglas B. Gucker, Extension Educator, Local Food Systems and Small Farms,

Pull date: August 31, 2017