Promoting farm sustainability with complementary intercropping of English walnut, peaches, and sheep pastureland.

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2022: $7,539.00
Projected End Date: 01/15/2024
Grant Recipient: Ox Heights
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Project Coordinator:
Abby Johnson
Ox Heights


  • Agronomic: clovers, grass (misc. perennial)
  • Fruits: peaches
  • Nuts: walnuts
  • Animals: sheep


  • Animal Production: grazing - rotational, manure management, pasture fertility
  • Crop Production: agroforestry, cropping systems, double cropping, intercropping, multiple cropping, nutrient management, silvopasture
  • Education and Training: display
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, integrated crop and livestock systems, permaculture

    Proposal summary:

    We propose to establish a novel intercropping of English walnut, peaches, and livestock and demonstrate this sustainable whole-farm system through NRC-SARE. Integration of diverse, short-term, long-term, high risk, and low risk farm revenue streams is critical for economic viability, environmental stability, and community diversity.  However, the transition from monoculture ago-systems to diverse systems is rarely intuitive or initially profitable.  Intercropping is a means to diversify but requires compatibility of crops.  Many farmers desire to diversify and increase revenue by establishing walnut orchards (English or Black), but decades are required for return on investment and comes with the cost of not producing another crop.  Intercropping walnut with other commodities would bridge the financial gulf and provide diversity, but walnut produce a toxic chemical (juglone) which limits traditional intercropping options.  Peach offers an attractive option to intercrop between walnuts because they are tolerant of juglone, produce fruit within 2 years, and typically die back by year 15.  This scenario also offers an opportunity to establish a forage crop (clover, tolerant of juglone) between the rows of trees.  Sheep, given their small size, can graze rotationally on the forage and serve as another revenue source, while controlling weeds and enhancing the soil.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Establish a novel intercropping of English walnut, peaches, and livestock.
    2. Disseminate the design, costs, production, and acreage saved in the agroforestry system through a blog, social media, field day, final report to SARE, and conference presentation.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.