Agroforestry

Agroforestry is a land use management system in which trees or shrubs are grown around or among crops or pastureland. Trees produce a wide range of useful and marketable products from fruits/nuts, medicines, wood products, etc. This intentional combination of agriculture and forestry has multiple benefits, such as greatly enhanced yields from staple food crops, enhanced farmer livelihoods from income generation, increased biodiversity, improved soil structure and health, reduced erosion, and carbon sequestration.

Agroforestry shares principles with intercropping but can also involve much more complex multi-strata agroforests containing hundreds of species. Agroforestry can also utilise nitrogen-fixing plants such as legumes to restore soil nitrogen fertility. The nitrogen-fixing plants can be planted either sequentially or simultaneously.

Effects

The effects of agroforestry on invertebrate pests and diseases were dependent on crop type. In perennial crops (e.g. coffee, cocoa and plantain), agroforestry was associated with lower pest abundances and less plant damage. However, the effects were not significant in annual crops (e.g. maize, rice and beans).

Benefits of Agroforestry

Reduction of pressure on forest. More efficient recycling of nutrients by deep-rooted trees on the site. Better protection of ecological systems. Reduction of surface run-off, nutrient leaching and soil erosion through impending effect of tree roots and stems of these processes.

Climate change

Based on a recent scientific assessment, agroforestry can contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation by

  • ┬áReducing threats and enhancing agricultural landscape resiliency.
  • Facilitating species movement to more favorable conditions.
  • Sequestering carbon.
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Reasons

The key concept in agroforestry is putting the right tree, in the right place, for the right purpose. Agroforestry practices can be designed to: protect soil, animals, crops, and homes from extreme weather.

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