It is often used as middle or upper storey crops with other crops like Irish potatoes being grown underneath. Sometimes, they are mixed with taller trees.
Coffee and cocoa
Coffee is also one of the common agroforestry crops grown by farmers. It enables farmers to grow tress in many spatial arrangements with other crops.
It large leaves and horizontal growth patterns provides additional shade and moisture retention. It does not compete with crops that grow vertically for sunlight.
Nitrogen fixing tress
Sesbania sesban, Faidherbia albino and Gliricidia are trees that fix nitrogen which results in introduction of more nitrogen to the soil.
One of the major disadvantages of agroforestry is that it is far more complex than a straight forward forestry operation or monoculture farming because it involves diverse use.
Successful agroforestry require knowledge and technology. Sometimes it may fail when technology is applied to the wrong situation. This is why it is important to access its advantages and disadvantages before proceeding with this method.
Another big problem of agroforestry is that it also requires a huge amount of time to reap the yields. Remember, it involves integrating long lived perennial crops or tress with other plants and livestock. Even the fastest specie can take years to grow.
Intercropping and agroforestry are very similar. They have some of the same characteristics like growing something else in between or near the crops that a farmer is growing. However, there are a few differences. The main difference is that the other crop of plant that is planted next to the crop differs for agroforestry than intercropping. In intercropping, other crops are planted with the main crop. It may be one more crop or it could be more.
In agroforestry, usually trees or bushes are planted within the rows of crops. Both ideas want the same result and that is to produce more of the main crop. The other trees, bushes or crops that are not the main crop really don’t matter as long as the main crop flourishes.
There are different studies that show why agroforestry is known to improve soil fertility. First of all, it makes sure that nutrients are cycled well which means that the soil usually ends up having more nutrients for the plants.
The arrangement of the shrubs, trees, and plants are also meant to reduce the possibility of soil erosion. This means that it will have the ability to reduce the loss of water, soil, and other nutrients that will be essential for the growth of plants.
There are different types of agroforestry system that may be done depending on the location where this will be done. This method should be done by professionals who have developed the skills needed for this over time.
Agroforestry help conserve the soil and improve soil quality: it prevents and control soil erosion by wind. Field shelterbelts consist of tall, long tress that do not compete with nearby crops and do not occupy much land.
Increase crop yield: research has shown that crop yields in fields that have adjacent shelterbelts have increased. This is due to better moisture and snow control technique, which help control climatic effects that lessen damage to crops.
It helps save energy: shelterbelts reduce the amount of heat loss in winter; this means less amount of energy is required to heat confinement buildings.
It help sustain biodiversity, it helps with snow control, it is helpful in sequestration of greenhouse gases, it also provides protect and feeding for livestock in winter.
Agroforestry is an aspect of agriculture that deals with the planting of trees, crops and rearing of livestock. Agroforestry has faced a lot of difficulties and problems in the past due to the lack of genuine information about its practices and the use of local methods. However, agroforestry business has witnessed a lot of developments as farmers no longer depend on archaic methods of practicing agroforestry.
Technology has indeed helped in combating major issues confronting the farmers, unlike in the past where local farm tools were the only source of equipment to the farmers, there have a lot of innovations towards practicing agroforestry in a modern way in order to enjoy the maximum gain in it. Agroforestry has a wide range of economic importance. There are so many benefits in agroforestry ranging from economic gain, improvement of soil quality and soil conservation. Soil conservation through agroforestry will help increase farm produce.
When vast tracts of forestry are removed, the soil beneath degrades and seriously affects the water table. Arid land can produce weak or no crops. A scheme of getting farmers in Sahelian country of Niger to aid growth of trees from existing stumps has had phenomenal success.
The result is a re-greening of previously degraded landscapes during the past two decades. More than 5 million hectares of land through farmer-managed natural regeneration of trees,
The farmers protect existing tree stumps on their land. In a few years these grow into full trees and shrubs. The consequent provision from these of numerous goods and services had greatly aided households and communities.
With trees on the land, the area’s hydrology gradually improves. Even dried up riverbeds may start to flow again. One man's vision: a specified scheme into which all relevant people (farmers) were committed to: that's what it takes.
In agroforestry, when lines of trees are planted room is left for compatible plants to be grown. These will improve the soil, providing nutrients for the trees, especially valuable nitrogen. You can regard the lines of plants between the lines of trees as 'alleys' and this is what alley cropping means- the cultivation of food, forage or specialty crops between rows of trees.
It is a larger version of intercropping, which is a similar planting of compatible plants between trees, but conducted over a longer time scale. Alley cropping provides profitable opportunities for farmers, not just for their crops, neatly in rows, but for growers of hardwood timber, nuts and Christmas trees.
The benefits of agroforestry are widely accepted but enthusiasm is for third world countries and those with plantation problems. In the US despite agroforestry's undoubted pros, government regulation of tree harvesting and insecurity of tenure are disincentives to adopting the practice.
This reluctance is against all indications of the very wide-spread benefits, which most in the country do not understand. There's a need to inform better about the cost for establishment and maintenance of an agroforestry practice and its economic return including considerations of financial risk and operational problems.
Forest farming allows the management of specialist crops, such as fungi, that would otherwise grow randomly and be difficult to find and harvest. Materials for artisan crafts come from this practice, and in a sustainable manner. Similarly, the season of demand for Christmas trees can be met and managed.
Agroforestry aims to grow trees and other agricultural products in a way that helps to preserve the environment while providing a sustainable model for the forest owner. It is now sjust trees but the interaction of different plant forms that makes agroforestry different from traditional forestry.