Agroforestry

Agroforestry is the combining of trees and shrubs with the raising of other crops or animals.  The USDA Agroforestry page says that in order for a farming system to be considered Agroforestry it needs to be intentional, intensive, integrated and interactive.  There are several different Agroforestry farming methods.

 

Silvopasture is growing trees in the pasture.  The trees are spread out so that the pasture grasses will still grow.  The cows and other animals that are being raised in the silvopasture benefit from the shade the trees provide.  The trees benefit from the fertilizer left behind by the animals, and since there is a lot of space between the trees they can grow into very valuable timber.

 

Alley Cropping is the practice of growing a crop between rows of trees so that you can get some income while waiting for the trees to mature.  If you grow something like alfalfa that fixes nitrogen it will also feed the trees and help them grow.

 

Forest Farming is the practice of growing shade loving crops under the trees in the forest.  Food forests are made this way by growing plants that grow to different heights so that you can have food growing on all the different levels.

 

Wind Breaks are rows of trees or shrubs planted to help block the wind to protect smaller plants and animals.  If you choose the trees and shrubs you plant wisely you can have rows of fruit trees, berry bushes or valuable timber depending on your needs.

 

Riparian Forest Buffers are strips of trees and shrubs that grow along the banks of streams.  These barrier areas help control soil erosion and help prevent fertilizer and other runoff from fields.

 

All of these agroforestry methods can be used to work with nature in supplying our needs for food and shelter.  Learn about more natural gardening methods.