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: NOAA establishes 'tipping points' for sea level rise related flooding

More information: www.agronomy.org/publications/… eq/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

UN sends team to clean up Bangladesh oil spill

16 hours ago

The United Nations said Thursday it has sent a team of international experts to Bangladesh to help clean up the world's largest mangrove forest, more than a week after it was hit by a huge oil spill.

How will climate change transform agriculture?

16 hours ago

Climate change impacts will require major but very uncertain transformations of global agriculture systems by mid-century, according to new research from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

Report: Radiation leak at nuclear dump was small

17 hours ago

A final report by independent researchers shows the radiation leak from the federal government's underground nuclear waste repository in southern New Mexico was small and localized.

Confucian thought and China's environmental dilemmas

21 hours ago

Conventional wisdom holds that China - the world's most populous country - is an inveterate polluter, that it puts economic goals above conservation in every instance. So China's recent moves toward an apparent ...

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.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.