Southern Research Station Headquarters - Asheville, NC
Main Logo of Southern Research Station, Stating: Southern Research Station - Asheville, NC, with a saying of 'Science you can use!'
[Images] Five photos of different landscape

Compass Issue 8
Download Issue 8 PDF

Compass is a quarterly publication of the USDA Forest Service's Southern Research Station (SRS). As part of the Nation's largest forestry research organization -- USDA Forest Service Research and Development -- SRS serves 13 Southern States and beyond. The Station's 130 scienists work in more than 20 units located across the region at Federal laboratories, universites, and experimental forests.

Small logo of the USDASmall logo of the Forest Service Shield

Issue 8

What is Agroforestry?

Agroforestry intentionally combines agriculture and forestry to create integrated and sustainable land use systems. Agroforestry takes advantage of the interactive benefits from combining trees and shrubs with crops and/or livestock. In other words, Working Trees are planted in the right places for the right reasons. In the United States, agroforestry is commonly divided into five main practices:

Windbreaks—A single row or multiple rows of trees or shrubs are planted for one or more environmental purposes. Example: single rows of honey locust trees planted 300 feet apart in a field can help reduce soil erosion in the spring and distribute snow across the field in the winter.

Alley Cropping—An annual or perennial crop is grown with a longterm tree crop. The agricultural crop generates annual income while the longer term tree crop matures. An example is growing soybeans in the alley between rows of highvalue black walnut trees. htm

Silvopasture—Timber and forage production are combined on the same acres. Trees provide longer term returns, while livestock generate an annual income. Typically these are southern pine trees planted at much wider spacing than in normal timber plantations. The wider spacing allows more sunlight to reach the ground to produce forage for livestock in a rotational grazing system. silvopasture.htm

Riparian Forest Buffers—Natural or planted woodlands are established between crop fields and water bodies. These living buffers are designed with trees, shrubs, and grasses to protect water resources by filtering nonpointsource pollution from agricultural fields.

• Forest Farming—Forestlands are intentionally manipulated to capitalize on plant interactions in order to produce specific nontimber products. Potential forest farming crops include herbal plants, fruits and nuts, decorative products, and specialty wood products.

Back to: Working Trees: Clean Water...and So Much More

Agroforestry Illustration

Related Stories