Introduction to Agroforestry

Agroforestry is the intentional integration of trees and/or shrubs into crop and animal production. Agroforestry systems appeal to a triple bottom line value approach to provide ecological, social and economic benefits; they are designed to complement the characteristics and management objectives of a given site to provide multiple benefits. Objectives can include; revenue generation, conservation, ecosystem services, ecosystem restoration, increased efficiency, economic diversification and/or moderation of financial risk. Indicators of success are determined according to the management objectives of the site.

Agroforestry practices are widely recognized in the tropics and are gaining increased recognition in temperate regions such as BC. In North America, there are 6 main agroforestry practices that take advan­tage of the interactive benefits of combining trees and shrubs with crops and/or livestock to create integrated and sustainable land-use systems, as explained below (Schoeneberger, M., Bentrup, G., et al, 2012).

North Dakota field windbreaks protect adjacent field crops, reduce wind erosion and store carbon. A typical, 2-row, mixed species field windbreak will store between 15 and 30 metric tons of carbon per mile.
(Photo Credit: USDA-NRCS)

 

Today, given climate change, increased demand for resources, degradation of soils, loss of agricultural land and continued deforestation, agroforestry offers opportunities to provide significant ecological, economic and social benefits, and is being more widely explored here in BC. Right here at UBC Farm we are exploring some of these practices and plan to continue developing the site to include additional agroforestry demonstrations.