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Agroforestry – a Pillars guide

Practical information on growing trees with crops and improving soil

2001

A farmer called Emiyas from Ethiopia smiling in a field surrounded by trees

A farmer called Emiyas from Ethiopia smiling in a field surrounded by trees. Photo: Diane Igirimbabazi

Pillars magazines on a desk

From: Pillars guides

Practical, discussion-based learning on community development for small groups

The aim of this guide is to raise awareness of:

  • the benefits of including trees with growing crops as a part of sustainable agriculture
  • the value of agroforestry in improving soil fertility and preventing soil erosion
  • the nutritional benefits of various tree species recommended for agroforestry

Anticipated outcomes

  • communities encouraged to regard agroforestry and tree planting as a normal activity on farmland
  • the building and maintenance of tree nurseries in local communities and the introduction of a variety of recommended tree species
  • farmers encouraged to experiment and compare various techniques for tree planting
  • people learn the value of local trees and gain confidence in their local knowledge
  • the improvement of soil fertility and conservation - the improvement of family nutrition
  • fuel wood becomes more available, benefiting the local environment
  • the provision of opportunities to improve smallholder income

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.

Consider how much can grow in a forest and how fertile the forest soil can be. Agroforestry tries to introduce some of the benefits of the forest onto our farms. The trees used for agroforestry must not harm crops or the soil. Agroforestry trees may be either local trees, which have grown in your area for hundreds of years, or trees recently introduced from other countries. When trees from outside are introduced, these are called ‘exotic’ trees.

Objectives of this guide 

  • To increase awareness of the benefits of including trees with growing crops as part of sustainable agriculture 
  • To raise awareness of the value of agroforestry in improving soil fertility and preventing soil erosion 
  • To raise awareness of the nutritional benefits of various tree species recommended for agroforestry 
  • To gain understanding of the various benefits provided by recommended tree species
 

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