Importance of Agro-Forestry

Although the word systems and practices are used synonymously in agro-forestry literature, a distinction can be drawn between them. Agro-forestry is a collective name for land use system and technologies in which woody perennials are deliberately used on the same land management units or agricultural crops and animals in some form of spatial arrangement or temporal sequence.

Home gardens are used loosely to mean several practices, such as growing vegetables behind the house. In agro-forestry terminology, home garden are mixed plantings where multipurpose trees and shrubs are grown in intimate association with annual and perennial crops / livestock’s under the management of family labor within the compound of individual house.

Food production is the primary function of most home gardens and it is almost continuous throughout the year. The intimate mixture of various agricultural crops and multipurpose trees meet the basic needs of the local population while the multistoried configuration and high species diversity of home gardens help reduce the environmental deterioration.
It is estimated that every year millions of acres of land fall out of production due to soil degradation, and the most prevalent of soil degradation are nutrient depletion and soil erosion. Soil degradation is a major problem particularly in our developing countries where effective erosion control measures, and nutrient replenishment is seldom practiced.
In Mayuge for instance, many farmers cultivate on the same piece of land year in and year out without fallowing or applying manure / fertilizer, resulting in consistence decline of biological potential of the soil in form of reduced yields. Trees are known to improve and maintain soil fertility using agro-forestry as a low input system for famers.
For a soil to be fertile its physical, chemical and biological properties need to be conducive for the plant growth by improving on the physical, chemical and biological status of the soils……….trees can enhance crop performance.

Mulopi Joseph

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