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Agroforestry

Author: Dr Kelvin Klemm

( Article Type: Explanation )

Agroforestry is the practice of combining agriculture and forestry technologies to optimise the use of land, to prevent land degradation and to produce more sustainable land-use systems. Typical agroforestry practices in use are Alley Cropping and Riparian Forest Buffers. In Alley Cropping, an agricultural crop is grown simultaneously with a long-term tree crop to provide an income while the tree crop matures.

In North America fine hardwoods like walnut, oak and ash are favoured tree species, while a nut crop is a useful intermediate species. Riparian Forest Buffers are natural or re-established forests along riverbanks. These forests can be composed of trees, shrubs and grasses and they reduce riverbank erosion, protect aquatic environments and increase biodiversity. Riverbank buffers also serve to reduce the damage caused by flooding, by acting as brakes on fast-flowing water when it overflows its banks, and also by making riverbanks more absorbent to the flood water.

Agroforestry is typically practised by the more advanced farmers and land-use authorities, and considerable work still needs to be carried out to develop even more innovative techniques and applications.