Increasing the number of trees planted on farms

Picture copyright: R. Burnett, supplied by A. Lyons

There is a general lack of tree planting in agricultural landscapes, although it improves environmental and economic performances of farms. Scientists Fleming et al. found three groups of values driving perceptions and behaviors relating to agroforestry. They reckon that farmer could increase tree planting via government incentives, mentoring, networks and support, especially when it is designed to match farmers objectives.

Cacao agroforestry yields similar income as monoculture

Picture copyright Armengot et al.

Tropical forests are dramatically decreasing. Management practices have also intensified, thus threatening biodiversity. A potential solution is agroforestry, that is the cultivation of shade trees within crops. Scientists Armengot et al. compared agroforestry and classical monoculture. They found that cacao yields were, on average, 41% higher in monocultures, but the revenues derived from agroforestry by-crops economically overcompensated for this difference.

What makes good coffee production?

Picture copyright BOREUX et al.

Coffee planters use diverse strategies to enhance coffee production, such as pruning, fertilising, removing weeds, applying lime to adjust the soil pH, irrigating coffee trees to trigger timely flowering, and removing shade trees that shade coffee plants. Agronomists Boreux et al. studied the factors of coffee production in the agroforestry system of Kodagu, India.

Trees to protect food crops against climate change

Picture copyright NASIELSKI et al.
Picture copyright NASIELSKI et al.

Agroforestry is a land use management system in which trees are grown around or among crops or pastureland. The presence of trees brings many benefits such as higher biodiversity, restoring soil fertility, cleaner water through reduced soil and fertiliser runoff and increased crop stability. A study of Nasielski et al. on soybean agroforestry suggests that yields in the tree-crop competitive zone will not be reduced under drier climate.

Innovative Swiss agroforestry

Conventional monoculture systems are failing in the long run because they have been designed solely for higher yields and economic benefits, thus neglecting pollution, biodiversity loss and non-traded social benefits. Agroforestry appears as a solution. However, farmers are often reluctant to adopt tree-based systems despite incentives to do so. To understand why, Sereke et al. have studied agroforestry in Switzerland using collaborative research and bioeconomic assessment of farmer agroforestry innovations.


Agroforestry to increase food security and decrease global warming

Agroforestry is the growing of crops and trees together. Mutual benefits of crops and trees can increase crop yields and food security. Agroforestry is also a solution for climate change because agroforestry stores more carbon into the soil, and, in turn, decrease atmospheric CO2, a greenhouse gas. The review article by Lorenz and Lal analyses the actual knowledge on the potential of agroforestry to store carbon in soils


Agroforestry and biochar to offset climate change

Expansion of agricultural land use has increased emission of greenhouse gases, exacerbating climatic changes. Most agricultural soils have lost a large portion of their organic carbon, becoming a source of atmospheric CO2. In addition, agricultural soils can also be a major source of nitrous oxide and methane greenhouse gases. Stavi and Lal show that agroforestry and soil application of biochar can efficiently sequester large amounts of carbon over the long-run. In addition, these practices also increase agronomic productivity and support a range of ecosystem services. Payments to farmers and land managers for sequestrating carbon and improving ecosystem services is an important strategy for promoting the adoption of such practices.