Agroforestry can simply be defined as agriculture with trees according to World Agroforestry. It is the interaction of agriculture and trees.
Agroforestry is the combined management of trees, shrubs and agricultural crops. This kind of diversification in farming is beneficial to the farmer and soil. FAO describes agroforestry as land-use systems where woody perennials (trees, shrubs, palms bamboo) are used on the same land as agricultural crops and / or animals. Example of trees that are great for agroforestry; Neem trees (mwarobaini), eucalyptus, gravellier, lemon, mango.
Benefits of agroforestry
The practice of agroforestry leads to reduced soil erosion therefore reducing loss of water, soil material, organic matter and nutrients. Some trees such as acacia, black locust, fixes atmospheric nitrogen in the soil making it available to crops that do not have this ability.When leaves and branches fall off from the trees they become mulch and when they decompose they add nutrients to the soil thus reducing the need to use synthetic fertilizers on that land.
Agroforestry diversify a farms production which apart from agricultural produce may include fire wood, timber, fruits, medicinal products (barks and leaves) as well as animal feeds.
Agroforestry plays a big role in climate change mitigation through sequester atmospheric carbon or carbon harvesting. Trees absorb atmospheric carbon and use it for their own growth while improving soil quality and ability to store higher amounts of carbon than other cultivated soils.
Preventing deforestation by encouraging agroforestry also plays a great role in mitigating climate change because when trees are cut down, carbon that was stored in trees and soils is released as a result of the disturbance which increases carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. This in return increases the effects of climate change.
‘’The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago .The second best time is now’’ A Chinese proverb.
Written By;Marion Makunyo