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According to World Agroforestry, "Agroforestry is the interaction of agriculture and trees, including the agricultural use of trees.
Agroforestry involves a wide range of trees that are protected, regenerated, planted or managed in agricultural landscapes as they interact with annual crops, livestock, wildlife and humans.
In short, there is nothing better than a tree to simultaneously:
According to the Soil Association, "agroforestry is a land management approach with multiple benefits. Planting trees, shrubs and hedges on farms can give farmers healthier soil and higher yields – not to mention creating vital homes for wildlife.
Agroforestry mimics natural ecosystems far more closely than monocultures do, where one single crop is grown over large areas of land. It works by letting different biological systems cooperate and flourish. This can lead to a rise in productivity, as trees and plants find ways to interact and support each other symbiotically. All of this can actively improve conditions for plants, livestock and wildlife alike.
Firstly, planting trees between crops reduces soil erosion – their roots bind the soil in place so that it doesn’t wash awash during heavy rain or strong wind, which can otherwise cause huge problems for farmers. They also take up water, preventing water pollution from reaching our ponds and rivers.
Trees add an extra crop that gives the farmer protection against poor harvests. Fruit, nuts or timber can provide an alternative income stream if the main crop fails due to unlucky circumstances such as wet summers or mild winters.
Diversified cropping through agroforestry can support farm businesses to operate throughout the year and avoid the peaks and troughs of seasonal demands and therefore providing a source of year round income.
Wildlife has an equal right to the landscape as we do. If farmers can get the same yield out of a smaller field through agroforestry, the rest of the space could be used to plant extra trees and hedgerows to house wildlife.
In some trials, these extra habitats have even helped with pest control, because they act as a home for “friendly predators”, who combat some of the pests that would otherwise eat or destroy crops.
Agroforestry landscapes also provide plenty of corridors for wildlife to move between habitats: crucial when it comes to foraging and breeding.
If we are to feed a growing world population, we need to think of clever solutions that can deliver food from sustainable and resilient sources. This will become especially important in the future, when climate change might alter weather patterns and make growing conditions less predictable.
The main thing we need to do to combat climate change is to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Trees are a great way to achieve this, because they take carbon from the atmosphere and store it safely deep in the soil. They also cycle nutrients which feed other plants, animals and fungi, who go on to nourish the soil further. And healthy soils are able to store far more carbon than degraded soils.
Healthy soils can also reduce our dependence on chemical fertilizers, because they already contain all the nutrients farmers need, and can replenish themselves naturally."
According to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, "Agroforestry can also be defined as a dynamic, ecologically based, natural resource management system that, through the integration of trees on farms and in the agricultural landscape, diversifies and sustains production for increased social, economic and environmental benefits for land users at all levels.
In particular, agroforestry is crucial to smallholder farmers and other rural people because it can enhance their food supply, income and health. Agroforestry systems are multifunctional systems that can provide a wide range of economic, sociocultural, and environmental benefits."
Since 2021, Soil4Climate has donated in support of 50 indigenous farming families in Malawi, an area of southeastern Africa.
Through HOPE Ministries International, these farmers receive needed farming supplies, like watering cans and seeds. Through ecosystem restoration and sustainable agroforestry, Hope Ministries aims to cultivate disaster resilience, mitigate poverty, and advance gender equality — all while helping reverse climate change.
Soil4Climate is committed to expanding its work in the region and to assisting with developing agroforestry projects.
Your donation to Soil4Climate can make a difference in the lives of smallholder farmers in East Africa helping them with farming supplies, watering cans, and seeds.
Give a Love Donation to Regenerative Ag projects in East Africa! Give a $100 and receive a Soil4Climate hat as a thank you!