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How Agroforestry Works

Agroforestry Principles

­So we know what agroforestry is, but let's get some more specific­ details.

The idea behind agroforestry is to create an opportunity that's as beneficial as pos­sible. It goes beyond aesthetic value. When landowners undertake agroforestry, they get the specific benefits that trees provide. But beyond that, it's a good step toward replenishing the world of diminishing resources that human consumption and expansion have caused. By practicing agroforestry, we not only get the immediate benefits but we can continue to study the practice and develop new methods.

Here are some of the most common agroforestry practices:

  • Alley cropping - planting trees between rows of already grown shrubs or trees
  • Riparian forest buffers - planting trees next to bodies of water
  • Silvopasture - sustainable integration of grazing land and forestry
  • Windbreaks - planting of trees/shrubs to manage the effect of wind on erosion and soil moisture [source University of Illinois]

Agroforestry is most typically practiced on large individual sites, such as the farmlands and rangelands already discussed. But there are opportunities for it on all fertile land. For further information on agroforestry on a small scale, be sure to read the next page.