- Crop Production: agroforestry, intercropping
Incorporating tree crops into farming systems has numerous ecological and business benefits, but this practice is extremely underutilized in the Northeast. We believe that some of the main barriers to adopting agroforestry practices are the relatively long lag time between planting trees and seeing a return, and a lack of working examples and technical expertise.
Whistle Down Farm proposes to conduct a trial of 10 different annual and perennial crops intercropped in row with a fruit and nut tree planting. We would plant in row with the trees to take advantage of the space between trees which will already be kept irrigated and weed free for the establishing fruit and nut trees. We hope to show an effective way to utilize the space for a new tree planting to create immediate profits and help offset the cost of tree establishment. The goal is to identify which crops would be most effective and profitable in this system, and to serve as a working demonstration site for other farms to inspire them to incorporate agroforestry practices into their operations.
We would document our work by collecting data on inputs and yield for each crop to be trialed. We would share updates via social media throughout the process, host a field day for farmers to see the system and answer questions, create a public facing document with our research results, and produce a short video of the whole project to be shared on social media and our website.
Project objectives from proposal:
This project seeks to:
- Identify annual and perennial crops that can effectively be intercropped between trees and provide the best combination of high economic return and low amount of time planting, tending, harvesting. We will be keeping track of all inputs and time spent on each crop, in addition to what the total harvested yield in pounds and dollar value of each crop is. We will produce a public facing document to be housed on the Whistle Down Farm and SARE websites to document this information. We hope other farms will be able to use this information to identify what crops would work best in intercropping systems on their farms.
- Provide a working example of intercropping in action so that other farms that want to adopt this practice can learn from our work. We hope seeing a successful agroforestry installation will inspire other farmers to adopt these practices and in turn improve their businesses and the ecosystems that their farms are a part of. We will engage with the public through our social media following, an on-farm field day, and a short video detailing the project.