What is Agroforestry?

Agroforestry is a sustainable land-use approach involving a deliberate mixture of woody perennials (trees, shrubs, palms, bamboos, etc.) with crops and animals. The inclusion of traditional and modern land-use systems in agroforestry makes it a promising land management system that can have significant economic, social, and environmental benefits.

Origin of the term "Agroforestry"

The term Agroforestry was formally coined in the early 20th century by American economic geographer J. Russell Smith in his book Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture (1929). Smith believed that tree-based “permanent agriculture” could be the solution to the destructive erosion that often followed the cultivation of sloping lands.

Types of Agroforestry Systems

An agroforestry system is characterized by the environment, plant species, and their arrangement, management, and socioeconomic functioning. There are three main types of agroforestry systems:

  1. Agrisilvicultural systems: In this system, agricultural crops are intercropped with tree crops in the interspace between the trees.
  2. Silvopastoral systems: The production of woody plants combined with pasture is referred to silvopastoral system.
  3. Agrisilvopastoral systems: The production of woody perennials combined with annuals and pastures is called agrisilvopastoral system.

What are the Different Agroforestry Practices?

An agroforestry practice has a distinctive arrangement of components in space and time. Although there are hundreds of agroforestry systems, here is a list of 18 distinct agroforestry practices:

  1. Improved fallow
  2. Taungya
  3. Alley cropping (hedgerow intercropping)
  4. Multilayer tree gardens
  5. Multipurpose trees on croplands
  6. Plantation crop combinations
  7. Home gardens
  8. Trees in soil conservation and reclamation
  9. Shelterbelts and windbreaks
  10. Fuelwood production
  11. Trees on rangeland or pastures
  12. Protein banks
  13. Plantation crops with pastures and animals
  14. Multipurpose woody hedgerows
  15. Apiculture with trees
  16. Aquaforestry
  17. Homegardens involving animals
  18. Multipurpose woodlots
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