There are different techniques practiced to preserve the forests that are endangered due to agricultural land acquisition and propagation of human civilization. One such practice is agroforestry. It is a unique practice where woody perennials along with crops are grown for ecological balance and sustainability at the same time. In this article, we will study what agroforestry systems are and how they can transform the use of land without distorting nature’s balance.
The process of growing big trees along with shrubs, crops, and livestock is called agroforestry. It is a botanical term that signifies a practice where a vast piece of land is converted into farmlands but has everything ranging from big perennials, shrubs, and animals reared at the same time.
All these elements are chosen according to their features so that their interaction does not harm any of them. This practice makes and maintains ecological diversity and even increases the rate of production also increases manifold.
It is considered a low-cost agricultural method of implementing different kinds of land management processes. This is done to reduce the heavy impact on natural land and forests due to agricultural requirements. It is also done to avoid destroying forests for the sake of producing crops for the sustainability of human civilization. The agroforestry systems also promote a greener economy due to the excellent promotion of renewable forest management and long-term sustainability of small-scale farmers and other producers.
We have got the answer to the question of what is agroforestry. Let us move on to define and understand the different types of agroforestry systems.
1. Agrisilvicultural System
If you split this term, you will find two different words, agriculture, and silviculture, merged together to give a name to this unique agroforestry practice. Silviculture means the practice of growing trees on a vast range of land. Agriculture, as we all know, is the production of crops.
The Agrisilviculture system defines the conscious practice of growing trees and crops at the same time in a piece of land. It is done to generate more income and to make a sustainable choice for saving the forests. The method of concurrent production of crops and trees delivers exceptional economic benefits to the producers.
Growing Acacia, Casuarinas, Cassia, Azadirachta, Coconut, etc along with other food crops are common agroforestry examples you can find in villages.
2. Silvopastoral System
It is a genre of agroforestry system where fodder plants are grown in pastures for livestock along with the production of trees and shrubs in the same piece of land. This is a unique practice where fodder plants like leguminous herbs and grasses are grown. These types of plants grow very fast.
Including this list of plants, shrubs and trees are also grown that is not affected by the fodder plants. It helps the producers to create two different sources of the economy and increase the possibility of carrying on a sustainable occupation.
The fodder is grown for animal nutrition and other uses. Trees are grown for their leaves, fruits, wood, etc. Shrubs can be medicinal or of different kinds. The difference between this system and the Agrisilvicultural system is that the crops are not food but fodder for animal stock.
As per the term, we can conclude that this is the combination of agricultural practices with silviculture and pastoral growth. In this system, all three kinds of plantations are grown as food crops, animal fodder, and trees.
The agroforestry trees grown, in this aspect, are chosen based on the climatic conditions of the location. The shrubs and tree species are chosen after checking their compatibility with the food and fodder crops. There is a systemic pattern to be followed for a beneficial outcome.
It is a common practice in the African continent. This system provides the basic needs of wooden fuel and medicines to more than 320 million people.
As per the definition of agroforestation, we can understand how it can be used in different spheres of civilization to utilize barren lands or forest lands without disrupting the balance of nature.
It can enhance the livelihood of the locales by giving them a good source of income. They can get good harvests, animal fodder, and other complementary forest products such as wood, fuelwood, barks, fruits, etc to sell.
Apart from creating a sustainable ecosystem for all the domestic and wild animals, as well as, human beings, the different systems of agroforestation also bring economic balance and social sustainability.
It is also a brilliant idea to preserve environmental health. By utilizing the lands of forests or croplands in such an efficient manner, we can not only make the soil richer with nutrients but can also add more oxygen to the atmosphere. Selective growth of one or two crops in a land reduces its fertility. It is then we have to move to another land. It will be stopped as the same land will produce ample resources as intended and expected.
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Check the agroforestry diagram to understand how a brilliant balance is brought among the components of this unique botanical system. The three components are trees, food crops, and pastoral units. The inclusion of these elements checking inter-compatibility will lead to a better environment for all the organisms co-existing in an ecosystem.
This is all you need to know about the components of agroforestry and how a system is designed. Study the benefits of these systems and learn how they are used.
1. What is pastoral farming?
It is a process where animal fodder is grown in small or vast pieces of land. The plant species grown can range from various types of grasses to leguminous plants that grow very fast and provide grazing lands for livestock.
2. How agroforestry can reduce pollution?
By growing different kinds of plants in a vast piece of land, barren lands can be made greener. In fact, every inch of available land can be used for growing such crops and trees and will aid in controlling pollution.