The value of versatile alley cropping in the Southeast US: A Monte Carlo simulation
Alley cropping offers a potential alternative to traditional land management practices. However, its implementation in the United States is extremely limited and general awareness and knowledge of alley cropping is lacking. While alley cropping does have a few barriers to entry, the cost of maintaining hedgerow products and foregone returns from primary crops particularly, its offer the potential for positive returns on investment once the hedgerow product, typically timber, is harvested. Thus we determined the need to create an economic model to assess the relative potential of alley cropping with respect to traditional land management practices under certain conditions. Through use of a stochastic Monte Carlo approach, we ran simulations comparing the results of an alley cropping system and a single crop system in the Southeast region of the United States. Preliminary results show that, under certain constraints, alley cropping may be profitable, but we believe this result is sensitive to assumptions about the interactions between system components. Through analysis of the results of these simulations we can determine in which situations alley cropping should be preferred over a single crop system. In the future, we will improve the model to account for more complex interactions and adjust input parameters as we find better data. We will evaluate how alley cropping affects farm risk and how policy programs may affect its profitability.