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Agroforestry

As an extension of the topic focusing on native pollinators, the questions remains - how can we create agricultural systems that support a diverse range of pollinators and hold space for native plants while producing food to feed everyone? 


One way to do this is to integrate agroforestry into crops that are grown on a large scale. 

What is agroforestry? Well, in a nutshell it is farming with the integration of trees but more wholistically it is a land management practice that supports the communion between trees, crops and livestock and capitalizes on carbon sequestration to create stable and strong ecosystems within agriculture. 


Some of the general benefits of agroforestry are increased habitat and diversity for birds, pollinators, insects and other wildlife, protecting crops, homes and animals from extreme weather, improving soil quality and water retention, a benefit to local economies by producing a diverse range products such as wood, food and fibers and it is an amazing tool to mitigate climate change through  soil carbon sequestration.  Agroforestry can take on a variety of forms depending on the ecosystem service desired. 


Windbreaks can be integrated by planting rows of trees or shrubs to control wind intensity and erosion. They can be used to protect wind sensitive crops and they help mitigate droughts and extreme weather. 


Silvopasture is the integration of trees, foraging plants and shrubs into livestock pasture. This creates more a natural habitat for animals, providing shade and a variety of forage while increasing soil health, bio-diversity, and water retention. It can provide additional sources of income for the farmer such as fruit, nuts or wood. 


Riparian buffers are trees, shrubs and vegetation that are established near waterways, lakes or wetlands. This aids in minimizing pollution from run-off which in turn protects aquatic habitats. They also can prevent erosion and stabilize banks.


Alley cropping can be implemented into our large scale row cropping systems. These systems decrease surface water run-off, improve soil health and fertility, act as a windbreak and increase habitat for pollinators and wildlife.


Agroforestry is not anything new. It is considered one of the earliest forms of agriculture and has been implemented across many regions and cultures by indigenous communities. Just as with most regenerative practices - it is a return to what we have done for centuries and re-learning the techniques of the people before us who integrate, honor and work with the cycles of nature. 

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