Often those who develop and grow trees on a piece of land will cultivate other farming crops on the same area of land. This is known as agroforestry and is sometimes used to provide fuel, forage and shelter for animals, along with many other benefits.
Agroforestry is also practiced as a means to grow trees along with other agricultural products in order to preserve the environment and provide a diverse and sustainable economic model for the owner of the land. Using the different types of plants, forms of trees and other farming crops sets agroforestry apart from both traditional forestry and farming.
Agroforestry is comprised of four different principal classifications. The first in which forage crops are introduced into a forest on which animals can graze is known as silvopasture. Silvoarable agroforestry combines the farming of trees with more traditional arable crops. These can include winter varieties which are able to live and thrive by the increased light that is made available in deciduous forests, once the foliage of the other seasons has gone. There is also the farming of trees along with the farming of high-yield crops such as specialty mushrooms, honey, nuts and special fruits of the forest. Finally, trees can be farmed along with forest gardening that involves cultivating flowers, shrubs, perennial and other types of plants.
There are many advantages to implementing agroforestry over traditional timber farming methods. The Agroforestry Research Trust in the United Kingdom has done several studies indicating that combining tree farming with crop farming, regardless of the type of other crops that are cultivated, can be better for the farmer not only from an economic standpoint but for the environment as well.
Agroforestry systems can be biologically more productive and more sustainable than either simple forestry or agricultural mono-cultures. From a biological standpoint, the use of agroforestry can help to maintain the organic matter in the soil and the biological activities that are needed in order to keep the soil fertile. In order to do this, it is important that 20 percent of land area being farmed be dedicated to the propagation of trees so that the organic matter can be maintained over the entire system. In addition, the proper maintenance of the organic matter and the effect of the roots of the trees also contribute to more favorable properties of the soil and help to prevent soil erosion.
The implementation of agroforestry can also contribute to a healthy environment wherein the interactions of the practices of agroforestry can enhance not only the soil but the water, animal, air and human resources of the farm. Even if the practices of agroforestry use up only five percent of the land being farmed, these practices account for 50 percent of the biodiversity and help to improve the habitats of wildlife and birds and encourage the growth of beneficial insects that naturally feed on the pests of the crops. Adding trees to a farm also improves aesthetics and adds variety to the landscape.
Because of its many benefits both for the environment and the landowner, agroforestry systems are already widespread in many temperate climates in the world and are the predominant production system in some regions.
Here at Silvinvest, we market Forestry Plantations which include Agroforestry as a way of land management. Therefore, the community and biodiversity is inclusive to the project.