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Long Valley
Long Valley
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P.O. Box 785, Robertson, Western Cape, ZA
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Long Valley

Long Valley

Robertson, ZA

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Zone 3 Alley cropping Expansion 2012

Project: Long Valley

Posted by paul barker over 12 years ago

We are based in a brittle environment, winter rainfall, Mediterranean arid climate bordering the Klein Karro in southern Africa.

Long Valley Farm (LVF) has about 5ha of un-irrigated Kikuyu (Penesetum) and Kweek (Cynodon) old pastures that we would like to convert to long term afroforestry with timber, nut and fruit baring trees, with alley crops in-between the tree rows. The layout is on contour, legumes above the swales, date palms on the swales, a double row fruit and nut plantings with a tree spacing of 3-5m below the swales, then 9-15m alley cropping area for winter (grains & pulses) and summer (fruits, grains & pulses) cropping systems, and/or perennial pasture (Themidia, Medicago, trifolium, Bromus) and/or medicinal/essential oil and so on

Here in lies the challenges in our thinking pattern when it comes to, Kikuyu and Kweek which are really hard to get rid of and will create long term management issues for trees, will reduce crop yields, not to mention the cost of continued mechanical removal. We do not have sufficient material to solarize or sheet mulch the system, as it is to large. We WILL NOT use herbicides as we are in conversion to certified organic and it is ineffective in any way. Pigs would work well, but the soil is to hard this time of year and we have to start planting from June this year, but pigs will become a permanent feature in the system. So we are left with only option of tillage. ripping out, discing, drag harrowing and so on to get out of these hardy, creeping, deep rooted grasses.

We have a bulldozer on site to rip, level, push swales and make the access roads in March. Followed by cover cropping with a broad diversity of annual, prolific seeding and perennial legumes, non-invasive grasses and beneficial herbs are to be applied to the soil surface and drag-harrowed in. 

We are not convinced about about drip irrigation on nut & fruit trees as a long term irrigation strategy but are planning on using it for the pioneer infrastructure, perennial medicinals and summer crops. Trees may be started on drip irrigation, but will have micro-jet sprinklers as the primary irrigation source after the swales. This will be laid on just after cover cropping and mulching at the end of May in preparation for the planting season which extends from June - August  

Tree to be planted include Stone Fruit with low chill requirements (Almond, apricot, nectarine, peach & prune), Pome fruit with low chill requirements (Apple, pear & quince) and Nut trees (Pecan & Walnut). Swales, tree alleys, perennial plantings and pioneer infrastructure will be totally mulched (material depending). 

Legume inter-plants include Tagasaste, Virgillia, Sesbania & Acacia, with grazing cut and drop systems between tree lines and pasture behind fencing so animals will form hedges. we plan to plant over 750 fruit and nut trees with over 1'500 support & pioneer infrastructure trees this season. 

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