Ecological benefits of the alley cropping agroforestry system in sensitive regions of Europe

Quinkenstein, Ansgar; Wöllecke, Jens; Böhm, Christian; Grünewald, Holger GND; Freese, Dirk; Schneider, Bernd Uwe; Hüttl, Reinhard F.

Alley cropping is an agroforestry system that offers a promising land use alternative for the temperate zone. On the same field, the sustainable production of food and biomass is possible, while simultaneously, especially in marginal areas, the ecological function of the landscape can be improved. Thus, alley cropping corresponds with the increasing demand for renewable energy resources and for a specific adaptation to the predicted changes of climatic conditions within Central Europe. However, presently, little knowledge exists regarding the effects of alley cropping on the environment. In this study a literature survey was undertaken to provide an overview of the different ecological benefits arising from alley cropping systems within temperate Europe. Abiotic factors (nutrient cycle, microclimate), biotic factors (biodiversity) and the effects on the carbon cycle are discussed in detail. Summarising, the results showed that alley cropping may be an ecologically advantageous land use system for sustainable food and biomass production in comparison with conventional agricultural practices. As a very flexible, but low-input system, alley cropping can supply biomass resources in a sustainable way and at the same time provide ecological benefits.

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Quinkenstein, Ansgar / Wöllecke, Jens / Böhm, Christian / et al: Ecological benefits of the alley cropping agroforestry system in sensitive regions of Europe. 2009.

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