Agroforestry practices and policies

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According to Louise Bach, agroforestry is an intensive land management system that maximizes the benefits from the biological interactions between deliberately combined trees and other crops or livestock. Since time immemorial, farmers have included trees in their agricultural landscapes. Trees provided shade, energy, and food that allowed farms to thrive. In addition, many were left without any particular purpose unless they interfered with the use of the land. This paper will focus on different types of agroforestry practices and policies and their impact on agroforestry. The most widely used agroforestry methods includeAlley cropping, Multistory Cropping, Riparian Forest Buffers, Silvopasture Establishment, Windbreak Establishment and Windbreak Renovation.

Alley cropping

Alley cropping refers to the planting of food crops and even forage between rows of trees including trees like hardwood timbers and Christmas trees. It can also be described as an improved form of intercropping which is conducted over an extended period of time. Farmers who have invested in hardwood timber can increase their cash flow through planting and harvesting of crops before the timber is harvested. This creates income diversification thereby improving the return on long-term investments in the trees. By planting trees where annual crop production due to many challenges, marginalized croplands are converted to high-value woodlands. This is termed as a marginal land improvement. Rows of trees reduce wind speed, thereby controlling wind erosion (Cutter 125). They can also act as windbreakers. They also create sheltered microclimates that improve the yield and quality of crops growing in the alleys. Alley cropping leads to biodiversity since the trees create a habitat for different animals. They include bees, birds, and even monkeys. Bees usually aid in pollination.

Multi-story cropping

In this type of agroforestry farming, the distance between one tree from another is widened to let the maximum amount of light to reach the underneath vegetation. Farming as a practice in a forest is regarded as multistory cropping. Management should be done on Tree canopies of native forests to allow the production of crops or foliage. (Cutter 123). The principal aims of this method are to produce wood or tree products in addition to agronomic crops or forage, to improve crop quality and quantity by enhancing microclimatic conditions, to provide favorable habitat for species which are of benefit to crops.

Riparian forest buffers

This refers to systematically planting of trees near or along water bodies. These trees provide more than just a beautiful landscape, the combination of these trees and grasses improve the quality of water by removing sediments and chemicals before they reach the water bodies. They can also prevent flooding, recharge underground water and preserve some animal species. (Factsheet 1) Buffers also help lower water temperatures by shading the water body and also stabilizes stream banks. Trees planted and managed in a riparian forest buffer can also provide timber and wood fiber.

Silvopasture Establishment

This is a type of agroforestry that combines planting of trees and shrubs with compatible forage or animal feed on the same land (Clason 4). This kind of agroforestry provides feed for livestock, and the production of wood products increases carbon disintegration, improves water quality, reduces soil erosion, enhances wildlife habitat, reduces fire hazard, provides shade for livestock and also develops renewable energy systems.

Conditions where the practice applies

Silvopasture is implemented where there are pasture and trees or where there is forest and forages can be added. Another application can be land on which neither the desired trees nor feeds are present in enough size to satisfies the objectives of the land. This practice may be applied on any area that is appropriate for the desired plants.

Criteria for application of this process

The forage species must be suitable for the targeted livestock. Livestock grazing shall be delayed until the average height of the tree's terminal bud exceeds the browsing height of the animal or significant size that can be able to withstand the breakage causative agents. A forage crop like hay or silage may be harvested during this period; trees should be planted at a reasonable density meaning they should be given enough spacing to allow growth of foliage and easy harvesting. The trees or shrubs should also be able to produce timber which is an additional monetary advantage.

Windbreak Establishment

Windbreaks refer to trees or shrubs planted around the edges of farms to provide shelter from the wind. They also help in preventing incidences of soil erosion. Fences known as windbreaks can also be used to perform this function. They can be made from a material like nylon, canvas, and recycled sails. They usually have three or more divisions held in place with poles that fit into the sewn sections. The poles are fixed into the ground and form a windbreak. Windbreaks are used to reduce wind speeds over places prone to erosion such as open fields. Lucky windbreak establishment depends on:


Before planting your trees, it is important to know the actual position of features such as roads, field boundaries, ditches among others to help in planning.

Site preparation

Site preparation is important since you will determine the species that will grow best in that kind of soil, if rodents become a problem then you can deal with them long before you plant the trees. Site preparation also avoids competition from weedy species by destroying the weeds and thus act as a way of weed control. It can be done by cultivation through use of various tools and equipment. Also use of chemicals to burn the weeds. the land should be leveled for a better windbreak growth.


After preparing your site, a two rows of tree edges are advisable for better windbreak. The next step is to choose the natural plants that are the best for windbreak. Mostly the tall ever green trees and shrubs are considered. Then give the correct spacing for the trees that are intended to be windbreak. And this depends on the number of rows to be placed, whereby, a two rows of two to eight feet apart row should be considered while planting trees and shrubs which are not fully mature in size. Then for a mature sized trees, a three to five rows having a three to twelve feet spacing is recommended. The main aim for applying this measurements is to provide a space that will allow the branches and the leaves to overlap when they come to grow large. Then finally in planting a windbreak, water should be provided with a thick layer of mulch around the base of the newly planted plants to maintain moisture as the windbreaks grows successfully.

Weed control

Weed control can be done in many ways. One can use chemical methods which involve, utilization of herbicides which are meant to reduce the weeds in a well-organized manner

Mechanical control methods can also be used. Automatic control is the use of powered tools and machinery rather than use hands to manage weeds. It is suitable for larger infestations because it reduces the plant bulk with less manual effort.

Biological weed control methods that involve the use of insects or diseases that affect the health of the weed. It is advisable that the biological weed control agents should be from the same country as the weed to be controlled. One can also use manual methods of weed control. Here you use your bare hands to uproot the weeds and pile them at a point on bunds. Manual weed control is a non-chemical method of controlling thus prevents detoxification of the soil. It also results to a clean and proper weeding and very affordable especially to the small scale farmers. It also causes minimal soil disturbance.

Wildlife damage control

Birds and other animals can cause severe damage to crops and measures should be put in place to prevent this. Since the damages caused by the various are related to certain behaviors including; feeding, creating habitat within the forest cover. The simple methods that can be implemented to prevent the occurrence of the damages made by the wildlife include; destroying the source of food in the forest cover. Also by carrying out practices like, covering the vegetation materials, overhanging the tree limbs or branches to prevent the access of the animals to the various source of food.

Reason for controlling weeds

Generally controlling weeds as a practice in agroforestry, there very many benefits that are accompanied with the practice like; providing and maintaining high quality products that competes in the market. It also help in preventing particular weeds that can be a habitat to some insects and even rodents that can cause great harm to the vegetation. Maintained weeding also help in preventing time wasted and the cost of land preparation. In addition weeding prevents loss of yield that results from the competition of space and food by weeds. Weeding also assist in preventing the blockage of the irrigation channels that provides the water circulation and flow in the forest.


Even under the best of conditions, some seedlings may die. It is advisable to check for any dead seedlings and them for at least three years to maintain the effectiveness of the windbreaks.

Windbreak Renovation

Since agroforestry mostly deals with trees, windbreak renovation deals with either reducing or increasing the density of trees. If there are many trees which bring about undesired shade then you prune the canopies of the trees to let sunlight pass through to the other crops. If there are few tree, then one is advised to plant more trees.

International agroforestry Policies

International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

The major aims of this Treaty are the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and also the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of this resources. FAO (food and agriculture organization) listing of invasive trees and shrub species. This is a list by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of invasive plant species. By this agriculturalists can know which plants to grow together and which not to grow together. The CGIAR Centres' Use of the Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA) gives room for the leader to receive the agreement. It came about after various of debates between the two rival parties

Better Trees on-farm in Africa I

The policy looks at the contribution of National Tree Seed Centres to development of small-scale tree planting in the world

Better Trees on-farm in Africa II

This system tries to look at how the input supply of tree seed and planting material to the small-scale African tree planters can be improved. India became the world's first country to adopt an agroforestry policy. The system deals with problems faced by this sector, other policy areas which affect agroforestry and a death of institutional finance.

Objectives of this policies

Agroforestry policies were mainly put in place to encourage the expansion of tree plantation in an integrated manner with crops and livestock to increase productivity, employment, and income for agricultural households. They also work towards protecting and stabilizing ecosystems, also promoting sustainable farming systems to minimize the risk during extreme climatic events (Panell 225). These policies were also put in place to enable nations to meet the requirements of raw materials for their wood-based factories to reduce import of wood or wooden products hence leading to saving of foreign exchange. Agroforestry policies also aim at supplementing the availability of agroforestry products such as wood, fodder, non-timber forest produce and timber for the rural populations, thereby reducing the pressure of depletion on existing forests. By planting trees together with agricultural products, we supplement the target of increasing forest cover to promote ecological stability all around the world. Agroforestry policies are geared towards developing and strengthening the research capacity in Agroforestry and create a massive awareness among people to achieve the other objectives.

Impacts of agroforestry practices and policies

Agroforestry practices and policies have impacted on the community both positively and negatively. On the positive side is where we find carbon disintegration, planting of trees prevents soil erosion and creates biodiversity, flood mitigation and sources of renewable energy. Agroforestry has also benefited people commercially from the sell off timber. As much as agroforestry is beneficial to the environment, it is not overly useful commercial wise to some people. People get high profits from the harvest of cash crops than from crops and timber. It will mean they will prefer cash crop farming to agroforestry.

Works Cited

Sharrow, S.H. and I. Syed. 2004. Carbon and nitrogen storage in agroforests, tree plantations and pastures in western Oregon, USA. Agroforestry Systems 60:123-130.

Cutter, B.E., K. Hunt and J.D. Haywood. 1999. Tree/wood quality in slash pine following long- term cattle grazing. Agroforestry Systems 44:305-312

Pannell, David J. "Public benefits, private benefits, and policy mechanism choice for land-use change for environmental benefits." Land Economics 84.2 (2008): 225-240.

Clason, T.R. and S.H. Sharrow. 2000. Silvopastoral practices. Ch. 5 in North American Agroforestry: An Integrated Science and Practice. American Society of Agronomy, Madison, WI.

Clason, T.R. and J.L. Robinson. 2000. From a pine forest to a silvopasture system. USDA - NAC. Agroforestry Note 18

March 15, 2023

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