Agroforestry is the growing of both trees and agricultural / horticultural crops on the same piece of land. They are designed to provide tree and other crop products and at the same time protect, conserve, diversify and sustain vital economic, environmental, human and natural resources. Agroforestry differs from traditional forestry and agriculture by its focus on the interactions amoung components rather than just on the individual components themselves.
Research over the past 20 years has confirmed that agroforestry can be more biologically productive, more profitable, and be more sustainable than forestry or agricultural monocultures. Many other benefits have been shown. Temperate agroforestry systems are already widespread in many parts of the world and are central to production in some regions.
Success of agroforestry is largely determined by the extent to which individual forest and agricultural components can be integrated to help rather than hinder each other. The choice of tree and crop species combinations is critically important when setting up systems.
The main agroforestry types are:
Silvopasture (Wood-pasture) - mixing trees and pasture/forage.
Silvoarable (Wood/field crop, intercropping or alley cropping) - mixing trees and arable or horticultural crops.
Forest farming - cultivating high-value products within forested areas.
Forest gardening - imitating complex forest ecosystems to produce many products.
Multi-purpose windbreaks, riparian buffer strips, contour plantings for erosion control, and fertility plantings of nitrogen-fixing trees are also options both on their own and incorporated into the three main agroforestry types.