Hedgerow intercropping is a management-intensive system that can lead to increases in crop yields. This management strategy seeks to maximize trees service roles of nitrogen fixation, soil and water conservation, weed control, and nutrient cycling. Hedgerow intercropping can lead to soil and micro-environmental improvements directly affecting associated crops. In addition, other tree products such as fuelwood and animal feed can be produced.
Hedgerow intercropping, also referred to as alley farming or alley cropping, involves planting rows of trees 2 to 6 meters apart with crops cultivated between the rows or in the "alleys". During the crop season, the hedgerows are kept pruned and the leaves and green stems are applied to the soil surface or incorporated into the soil. Hedgerows can be allowed to grow between cropping seasons to produce fuelwood.
On sloping land, hedgerows are densely planted (5-10 cm within rows) along the contours to form a barrier against soil erosion. Grass strips planted alongside hedgerows will create a more effective barrier.
Important genera for hedgerow intercropping include Albizia, Cajanus, Calliandra, Gliricidia, Leucaena, and Sesbania. Promising genera which deserve further attention include: Chamaecytisus, Desmodium, Erythrina, Flemingia, Inga, and Tephrosia.