Action Synopsis: Soil Fertility About Actions

Use alley cropping

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    not assessed
  • Certainty
    not assessed
  • Harms
    not assessed

Study locations

Key messages

A controlled, randomized, replicated study from Canada found that intercropping with trees resulted in a higher diversity of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi.



About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A randomized, controlled, replicated study in 2008 on sandy-loam soil in Ontario, Canada (Bainard et al. 2012) found a greater diversity of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) under tree-based intercropping (6 phylotypes) compared with conventional cropping (4.7 phylotypes). Colonization of corn Zea mays roots was greater than 50% in both intercropped and conventional treatments, and AMF richness was similar in both treatments. Different tree species supported distinctive AMF communities. Trees were intercropped annually with corn, soybean Glycine max, winter wheat Triticum aestivum or barley Hordeum vulgare using no-till cultivation. The tree rows accounted for 16% of the crop area and were spaced 12.5-15 m apart. Tree species included silver maple Acer saccharinum , white ash Fraxinum americana , hazelnut Corylus avellana , black walnut Juglans nigra , Norway spruce Picea abies, hybrid poplar Populus deltoides, red oak Quercus rubra, black locust Robinia pseudoacacia, willow Salix discolor and white cedar Thuja occidentalis.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Key, G., Whitfield, M., Dicks, L.V., Sutherland, W.J. & Bardgett, R.D. (2020) Enhancing Soil Fertility. Pages 613-634 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

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Soil Fertility

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Soil Fertility
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