F1 Introduction to agroforestry

  • Agroforestry is the practice of allowing trees and crops to grow together. This may be on farmland or in the forest. It is a way of making better use of the land available to get more products from the farm.
  • Trees grown on farmland will change the growing conditions for the surrounding crops. These changes may be either positive or negative.
  • What examples are there in your area where trees are grown on farmland? What characteristics do these trees have?

Discussion

  • Do all trees prevent crops from growing nearby or are some trees better at allowing crops to grow near them?
  • Allow participants to discuss at length the advantages and disadvantages of trees growing near crops.
  • Don’t be afraid to let people list the problems, which may include trees taking away soil nutrients from crops, giving too much shade for crops to grow well or drying out the soil. Be sure to mention the example of eucalyptus which, though it is useful as a fast growing fuel wood tree, takes a lot of water from the soil so that crops will not grow near it. Eucalyptus is not a suitable agroforestry tree. Later draw the discussion to more positive benefits.
  • These benefits include protecting soil fertility, protecting the soil from the effects of heavy rain on bare soil, and producing useful products such as fuel, fodder and fruit. Agroforestry depends on using trees that will not compete with food crops.