Assessing agroforestry's advantages

Jun 30, 2011
North Dakota field windbreaks protect adjacent field crops, reduce wind erosion and store carbon. A typical, 2-row, mixed species field windbreak will store between 15 and 30 metric tons of carbon per mile. Credit: USDA-NRCS

Agroforestry, the deliberate placement of trees into crop and livestock operations, can help capture substantial amounts of carbon on agricultural lands while providing production and conservation benefits. However, we currently lack tools for accurately estimating current and projected carbon values in these systems.

In North America, windbreaks are an effective carbon-capturing option. Only occupying about 2 to 5% of the land, windbreaks also help protect and livestock, as well as reduce . They provide a means to increase production while reducing .

James Brandle, a University of Nebraska–Lincoln professor, explains that unlike forests, the linear design of windbreaks creates a more open environment with different light and climate conditions. As a result, agroforestry trees usually have different characteristics than trees grown under forest conditions. New tools specifically designed for windbreak trees are needed to determine current or future amounts of carbon contained in agroforestry practices.

Researchers at the University of Florida, University of Kansas, University of Nebraska and the USDA National Agroforestry Center (NAC) have developed a model to predict the amount of carbon contained by agroforestry systems. This modeling approach uses detailed web-available data for windbreak, soils and climate.

While this research focused only on green ash windbreak growth in Nebraska, it provides a good basis for determining agroforestry's contributions in farming operations.

Explore further: Land-restoration expert cautions: 'Nature never forgets nor forgives'

More information: www.agronomy.org/publications/jeq/articles/40/3/842

Provided by American Society of Agronomy

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Towards an efficient, effective and equitable REDD+

Dec 07, 2010

An exclusive focus on forests -- as opposed to the entire landscape -- could lead to inequitable and destructive outcomes for the poor in developing countries, said a Nairobi-based agroforestry research organization today.

Recommended for you

Untangling Brazil's controversial new forest code

1 minute ago

Approved in 2012, Brazil's new Forest Code has few admirers. Agricultural interests argue that it threatens the livelihoods of farmers. Environmentalists counter that it imperils millions of hectares of forest, ...

China toughens environment law to target polluters

1 minute ago

China on Thursday passed the first amendment to its environment protection law in 25 years, imposing tougher penalties on polluters after the government called for a "war" on pollution.

Sea floor conditions mimicked for drilling platforms

4 hours ago

Mobile jack-up drilling platforms used in the oil and gas industry are at risk of rejection before installation due to their use in harsher environments and deeper waters—but University of WA scientists ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Caliban
not rated yet Jun 30, 2011
This is a pretty limited assessment of AgroForestry's potential, and essentially one derived from a strictly monoculture-based industrial agriculture.

True AgroForestry employs a mixture of trees, crops, and livestock to maximize the robustness and diversity of the system, ie, the crops provide a harvest for human use, as well as fodder for livestock, which in turn provide fertiliser, in a complex of cyclical interrelationships(that I've greatly oversimplified here) which are largely self-sustaining.

Wind rows around cereal grain crops only just minimally qualify as A-F, if at all.

More news stories

Untangling Brazil's controversial new forest code

Approved in 2012, Brazil's new Forest Code has few admirers. Agricultural interests argue that it threatens the livelihoods of farmers. Environmentalists counter that it imperils millions of hectares of forest, ...

How productive are the ore factories in the deep sea?

About ten years after the first moon landing, scientists on earth made a discovery that proved that our home planet still holds a lot of surprises in store for us. Looking through the portholes of the submersible ...

Genetic code of the deadly tsetse fly unraveled

Mining the genome of the disease-transmitting tsetse fly, researchers have revealed the genetic adaptions that allow it to have such unique biology and transmit disease to both humans and animals.

Ocean microbes display remarkable genetic diversity

The smallest, most abundant marine microbe, Prochlorococcus, is a photosynthetic bacteria species essential to the marine ecosystem. An estimated billion billion billion of the single-cell creatures live i ...