Alley farming — where trees are integrated into the cropping/farming system — has not grown as expected, due mainly to lack of knowledge about appropriate tree species and treatments.
To help tackle this issue, the GRDC is supporting an AGWEST-managed project which has turned the spotlight on oil mallees, Pinus radiata and Eucalyptus globulus.
Researchers are trying methods such as root pruning, root barriers, coppicing and tree-thinning to lessen competition between trees and grain crops for nutrients and water.
The desirable outcome is sometimes not easy to call.
Although tree root pruning has increased alley-farming crop yields by about 40 per cent overall and 29 per cent in the competition zone between crop and tree alley, extra competition for water is desirable when crops are waterlogged.
As might be expected, root severing decreases crop yield in that competition zone where tree roots and crops direcdy compete.
Program 3.5.3 Contact: Mr Robert Sudmeyer, AGWEST 08 9083 1100