Ecological Basis of Agroforestry

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  1. Agroforestry - Wikipedia
  2. Navigation menu
  3. Overstory #95 - Agroecology: principles and strategies
  4. Ecological basis of agroforestry
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Agroforestry - Wikipedia

Ecological Basis of Agroforestry 2. Faced with the growing problems of climate change, ecosystem degradation, declining agricultural productivity, and uncertain food security, modern agricultural scientists look for potential relief in an ancient practice.


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Agroforestry, if properly designed, can mitigate greenhouse effects, maintain ecosystem health and biodiversity, provide food security, and reduce poverty. Poorly implemented agroforestry, however, can not only exacerbate existing problems, but also contribute in its own right to the overall negative effects of our depleted and failing ecosystems. With a diminishing margin for error, a thorough understanding of the ecological processes that govern these complex systems is, therefore, crucial.

Drawing on the collective expertise of world authorities, Ecological Basis of Agroforestry employs extensive use of tables and figures to demonstrate how ecologically sustainable agroecosystems can meet the challenges of enhancing crop productivity, soil fertility, and environmental sustainability. Divided into four sections, this comprehensive volume begins with a study of tree-crop interaction in tropical and temperate climates.

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Contributions cover above and below ground interactions, alley cropping, tri-trophic interactions, ecologically based pest management, and the chemistry and practical potential of chemically mediated plant interactions. The second section investigates root-mediated below ground interactions and their role in enhancing productivity, soil fertility, and sustainability. It includes an extensive study on litter dynamics and factors affecting nutrient release.

High Productivity Agroforestry & Silvopasture Systems with Geoffrey Steen

Edwards, Lal, Rattan, P. Madden, R. Miller, H. House, Gar eds. Sustainable Agricultural Systems. Liebman, M. Crop rotation and legume residue effects on weed emergence and growth: implications for weed management. Hotfield and B. Stwerrt eds.

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Integrated weed and soil management. Ann Arbor Press, MI. Photo 3: Coffee-based agroforestry in Gedeo zone. The home garden as a traditional agroforestry system in many regions has shown great value in maintaining high degree of diversity. In country such as Ethiopia where the deforestation rate is extremely high, agroforests serve as a refuge for many plants and animals. A total species of 50 plants of 35 families was recorded Negash in a home garden of size m2 in the Gedeo zone.

In general, the Gedeo agroforest is endowed with nationally and globally significant biodiversity and genetic resources. Many factors enable the Gedeo agroforest to host maximum diversity.


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  • Among them is the upper story species, providing supplementary habitat for shadetolerant species Photo 5. As an example, coffee Coffea arabica is well adapted to growing under the shade of indigenous tree species. Home garden agroforestry enhances land use efficiency.

    As the agroforest land is individually owned, the indigenous tree components are buffered from the pressure on communal forest land.

    Overstory #95 - Agroecology: principles and strategies

    Furthermore, the agroforestry systems have created a connectedness as a movement corridor for different species, facilitating gene flow. Photo 4: The upper- and middle-story species in a Gedeo agroforest. Photo credit: Negash The diversity of plants in the home garden, associated with other organisms, contributes to the formation and maintenance of soil structure and the retention of moisture and nutrient levels and promotes the recycling of nutrients Verchot et al. This is particularly important in hillside farming, where agriculture may lead to rapid loss of soil.

    According to Tadese for instance, agroforestry land use is suited to the mountainous Gedeo area, as it protects against erosion. The agroforestry system plays a significant role in soil fertility maintenance. Its nitrogen content also far exceeds that in other types of agroforest. For instance, Ficus sur is the most dominant species in Gedeo agroforestry system.

    Furthermore, whole tree harvest is uncommon in the tree management tradition of Gedeo people. Twigs are removed for domestic uses and most carbon remains in the trunk. Photo 5: Supplementary habitat provided by upper story of Ficus spp. Photo credit: Tadese There is a very high population density in the Gedeo zone, whose mainstay is agriculture.

    Ecological basis of agroforestry

    For instance, there are The high productivity of this agroforest helps the community to be food secure although there are many other factors which affect food security in the area. Gedeo agroforestry is economically more viable than other land use systems because of the constituent high-value cash crops and staple crops Tesfaye It is also the best-performing among agroforestry systems in Ethiopia.

    It offers multiple products including construction materials, food for humans and animals, fuels, fibers, and shade. Women in Ethiopia actively participate in home garden management than other farms. They selectively domesticate useful species in their homesteads. The growing population pressure in Gedeo has destroyed the agroforestry practices Bishaw et al. The population size is beyond the carrying capacity of the system, creating an imbalance between consumption and maintenance.

    The population burden leads to the degradation of forest species, which are the backbone of the system. Under pressure from land fragmentation and environmental and societal change, many Ethiopian smallholders are in the process of transforming their farming strategy toward market-oriented monocropping to meet their needs for household food security and income. Bishaw et al. The stimulant plant, khat Catha edulis is expanding at the expense of dominant crops such as enset and coffee. IK includes different sets of complex practices.

    Tadese described two kinds of agroforestry-related IK. The first is knowledge of the selection of component species core and subsidiary and the second is knowledge of how to arrange the species in space and time.

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    The spontaneous combination of different elements may not help to achieve production and protection objectives. The IK helped Gedeo people to create an ideal agroforestry for socio-ecological well-being.


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    The erosion of the IK is among the factors accelerating the deterioration of the Gedeo agroforestry system. This IK is transferred to generations with some modifications. Free download. Book file PDF easily for everyone and every device.