What is Agroforestry?
Agroforestry is an integrated land-use system that combines the planting of trees or shrubs alongside other agricultural crops and/or livestock. Thanks to ecological and economic interactions between trees, crops and livestock, agroforestry systems can lead to higher productivity compared to conventional land use systems: Trees can improve soil fertility, regulate microclimates, provide shade and wind breaks, counteract soil erosion and absorb carbon dioxide. Hence, agroforestry systems not only contribute to higher agricultural productivity, but also play an important part in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Moreover, tree products allow farmers to diversify their income through the sale of timber, fruits, nuts, poles or medicinal products, therefore contributing to higher food security and higher incomes.
In dispersed interplanting, trees are grown alongside crops, usually in rows in between plots, to provide nutrient and organic matter for the soil, as well as shade for crops. In addition to improving crop productions, trees also provide fuelwood, building poles or fodder.
By planting trees along the boundaries of plots, trees provide borders, and windbreaks, in addition to improving the soil, sequestering carbon and providing shelter for wildlife.
Fruit orchards contribute to greater food security and higher income sources. and provide smallholders with fruits, nuts and seeds. Fruit trees can be planted as orchards or dispersed throughout the land. Moreover, greater tree cover improves the general microclimate of farms and improves soil fertility of agricultural plots.
In a homestead system, trees regulate microclimates by providing shade and wind breaks for crops and livestock, and contribute to improved soil fertilitiy. Moreover, livestock provides manure that can be used as fertilizer for both crops and trees.
Aquasilviculture can provide an alternative livelihood for fishing communities and serve as a means of conserving coastal and riparian ecosystems, enhancing water quality and wildlife.