Agroforestry: Agriculture and Non-timber Forest Products

Topics: Agriculture, Agroforestry, Forestry Pages: 6 (1303 words) Published: February 2, 2012
Agroforestry is an integrated approach of using the interactive benefits from combining trees and shrubs with crops and/or livestock. It combines agricultural and forestry technologies to create more diverse, productive, profitable, healthy and sustainable land-use systems.

( Agroforestry ) Alleycropping - Part 1

( Agroforestry ) Alleycropping - Part 2

( Agroforestry ) Riparian Buffers - Part 3

( Agroforestry ) Riparian Buffers - Part 4

( Agroforestry ) Silvopasture - Part 5

( Agroforestry ) Silvopasture - Part 6

( Agroforestry ) Windbreaks - Part 7

( Agroforestry ) Windbreaks - Part 8

Definitions According to the World Agroforestry Centre , Agroforestry is a collective name for land use systems and practices in which woody perennials are deliberately integrated with crops and/or animals on the same land management unit. The integration can be either in a spatial mixture or in a temporal sequence. There are normally both ecological and economic interactions between woody and non-woody components in agroforestry.

In agroforestry systems, trees or shrubs are intentionally used within agricultural systems, or non-timber forest products are cultured in forest settings. Knowledge, careful selection of species and good management of trees and crops are needed to optimize the production and positive effects within the system and to minimize negative competitive effects.

In some areas, a narrow definition ofagroforestry might simply be: trees on farms . Hence, agroforestry, farm forestry and family forestry can be broadly understood as the commitment of farmers, alone or in partnerships, towards the establishment and management of forests on their land. Where many landholders are involved the result isa diversity of activity that reflects thediversity of aspirations and interests within the community.

Impacts Agroforestry systems can be advantageous over conventional agricultural and forest production methods through increased productivity, economic benefits, social outcomes and the ecological goods and services provided.

Biodiversity in agroforestry systems is typically higher than in conventional agricultural systems. Agroforestry incorporates at least several plant species into a given land area and creates a more complex habitat that can support a wider variety of birds, insects, and other animals. Agroforestry also has the potential to help reduce climate change since trees take up and store carbon at a faster rate than crops.

Agroforestry tree species of research interest in the tropics, particularly in relation to improving maize yields in sub-Saharan Africa, include the nitrogen fixing species Sesbania sesban, Tephrosia vogelii, Gliricidia sepium and Faidherbia albida . For example, a ten year experiment in Malawi showed that by using fertilizer trees such as Tephrosia vogelii and Gliricidia sepium , maize yields averaged 3.7 tonnes per hectare, compared to 1 tonne per hectare in plots without fertilizer trees or mineral fertilizer. Research with Faidherbia albida in Zambia over several years showed that mature trees can sustain maize yields of 4.1 tonnes per hectare compared to 1.3 tonnes per hectare beyond the canopy of the tree. Unlike other trees, Faidherbia sheds its nitrogen-rich leaves during the rainy crop growing season so it does not compete with the crop for light, nutrients and water. The leaves then regrow during the dry season and provide land cover and shade for crops.

Potential impacts of agroforestry caninclude:

*. Reducing poverty through increased production of agroforestry products for home consumption and sale

*. Contributing to food security by restoring farm soil fertility for food crops and production of fruits, nuts and edible oils

*. Reducing deforestation and pressure on woodlands by providing fuelwood grown on farms

*. Increasing diversity of on-farm treecrops and tree cover to buffer farmers against the effects of global climate change...
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