Agroforesters needed in NZ? (Was: Re: [Scoop] Scientists Refute Government Spin-Campaign)

Brian Sandle bsandle at
Fri Feb 4 16:52:09 EST 2000

In nz.politics John Cawston <rewarewa at> wrote:
: Brian Sandle wrote:

: Snipped

:> Euan Mason is supposed to be doing agroforestry teaching. How well is
:> agroforestry getting to the Lincoln University agriculture students?

Since some of the benefits of agroforestry take a few years to accrue it 
would seem good for young farmer managers to be familiar with it.

 : Define Agroforestry.

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  Agroforestry:  This involves incorporating tree/ woodland growing
  into agricultural systems.  For example, trees can be planted
  around houses, in or around fields or in small woodlots.  Also,
  trees can be planted to conserve soil, act as windbreaks or
  boundaries and provide, amongst other things, shade, fuelwood,
  timber and fencing material.
   Linkname: New Money-Making Options With Trees
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   "We're looking at profitable alternatives to help small farmers deal
   with price fluctuations," says ARS forester Catalino A. Blanche.
   "Agroforestry is one way farmers can get the most use out of their
   land. Although other countries use agroforestry systems, it is a
   fairly new idea in the United States."
   The two types of agroforestry being studied at the Booneville center
   are called silvopasture and alley cropping. Silvopasture is growing
   trees, cattle, and grass on the same land. Alley cropping is growing
   crops between tree rows. The idea is that farmers can use their land
   to make supplemental income during livestock down markets, without
   sacrificing their main source of income or losing profits.
   Linkname: Agroforestry: An Overview
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   by: A.M. Gordon
          * INTRODUCTION
          * SUMMARY
 Agroforestry differs from farm forestry, which includes farm
   woodlots, sugarbush management and Christmas tree plantings that may
   be used to provide cover on marginal farmlands. The term "
   agroforestry " implies an incorporation of the two traditionally
   distinct land uses, agriculture and forestry, so that trees are an
   integral component of farming systems.
   Trees grown concurrently with grazing farm animals may increase the
   economic productivity of pasture land by providing the additional
   benefits of wood, sap or nut production. In New Zealand, for example,
   more than 100,000 ha of land have been converted into silvipasture
   using fast- growing radiata pine. Although a decrease in sheep
   performance and feed value of the pasture has been noted with densely
   planted trees, this is offset by enhanced economic return of the
   trees themselves. In western Canada, sheep are sometimes used to
   successfully control weeds in forest plantations, and in the southern
   United States intensely managed silvipasture systems have also been
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  Modern scientific agroforestry truly began in mid-1970s during a
   period of re- examination of World Bank and FAO policies and
   strategies. Agricultural systems in developing countries were failing
   to meet the production needs of the growing population, or in the
   attempt to do so were degrading land and water resources. Natural
   forests in these regions were also under unsustainable pressures from
   loggers and encroachment for agriculture. Agroforestry was seen as a
   means of
     * enhancing the productivity of agriculture
     * providing an alternative source of timber and fuel needs --
       protecting forests
     * providing poorer farmers with stable income
     * enhancing environmental values of the region
   For this reason, agroforestry emerged as a discipline distinguishable
   from agronomy and forestry by the establishment of the International
   Council (now Centre) for Research into Agroforestry (ICRAF) in
   Nairobi, Kenya in 1977. It emerged as the focus of agricultural
   research in developing countries shifted away from the concept of
   maximising the production of a single commodity in a monoculture, to
   optimising the production of several products and services with
   minimal risk from a given unit of land.
   Interest in agroforestry in Australia and other developed countries
   began roughly at the same time as the environmental problems arising
   from the 'maximising' paradigm were being recognised. In Australia,
   for example, one of the most serious threats to sustainable
   agriculture is that of salinity. This problem is a result of the
   widespread disruption of groundwater systems arising from the removal
   of the removal of the original perennial vegetation. So much of the
   early interest in agroforestry in Australia was to revegetate the
   landscape with trees that not only intercept groundwater, but also
   produce timber, fodder, shelter and other products and services.
   While the environmental imperative behind agroforestry in Australia
   will always be very strong, there is increasing focus on the great
   economic opportunities for farm-grown timber.
  A scientific and comprehensive definition 
   An internationally accepted definition for agroforestry has been
   developed by The International Centre for Research into Agroforestry
   (ICRAF) at Nairobi, Kenya:
     "Agroforestry is a collective name for land use systems in which
     woody perennials (trees, shrubs, etc.) are grown in association
     with herbaceous plants (crops, pastures) and/or livestock in a
     spatial arrangement, a rotation or both, and in which there are
     ecological and economic interactions between the tree and non-tree
     components of the systems." (Young 1989)
   Linkname: Agroforestry
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(whole text shown here)
   9. Agroforestry
   As a further development of plantation forestry, agroforestry is now
   an established practice in New Zealand. Since 1990, half a million
   hectares of land have been planted in trees for the first time,
   primarily on pasture and mostly by small-scale growers.
   Although the word `agroforestry' is used in many ways, it can be
   defined as agriculture and forestry in close association. The
   planting of trees on farms, by farmers, can therefore be considered
   as agroforestry, regardless of whether or not livestock are grazed
   under the trees.
   Radiata pine continues to be the preferred species for this new
   planting, but there is considerable interest in alternatives such as
   Douglas fir, cypresses, and eucalypts.
   There are three broad types of agroforestry in New Zealand:
   o Farm-based - trees are planted on existing farms;
   o Forest-based - animals are grazed in existing forests;
   o Timberbelts - shelterbelts on farms are managed to produce high
   quality timber.
   The objective of agroforestry is to increase the total productivity
   and profit from the land, and to meet many non-economic goals, such
   as erosion control, weed suppression, livestock welfare, and
   aesthetic enhancement.
   Forest-based agroforestry
   Substantial areas of second-rotation forest are being oversown with a
   combination of nitrogen-fixing plants (mainly Lotus `maku') and
   grasses in order to suppress problematic weeds. In most cases, these
   forests are not grazed, as livestock returns are currently very low
   and the hassles are substantial. Difficulties include the
   installation and maintenance of water reticulation and fencing. In
   some localities, however, (particularly where pampas is a problem),
   grazing with cattle continues to be the cheapest and most effective
   method of weed control.
   Thinning, followed by pruning of all the remaining trees, maximises
   the sunlight that reaches the forest floor and stimulate the growth
   of the understorey pasture. The maku lotus provides essential protein
   for grazing animals, and nitrogen for the trees. The benefits of
   oversowing and grazing are, in rough order of importance:
   o Increased tree growth as a result of additional nitrogen input;
   o Reduction of problematic weeds (e.g. pampas) and improvement of
   access for pruning and thinning;
   o Reduced risk of fire;
   o Improved appearance;
   o Income from livestock.
   Farm-based agroforestry
   As previously stated, most of the new-land planting in recent years
   has taken place on pasture. This provides enormous benefits in terms
   of cost reduction (little site preparation, existing roading
   infrastructure) and in terms of growth rates, but can result in
   inferior tree quality if the silviculture is not adjusted to take
   account of the differences between the new farm and the traditional
   forest sites. In particular, pruning lifts have to be more numerous
   and more frequent, and stocking rates must be higher, to control
   branch size.
   If whole farms are planted by investment companies, then the trees
   may be left to grow without any understorey grazing. On the other
   hand, for a nominal transaction fee, grazing with sheep for the first
   few years of a crop rotation can provide benefits in terms of reduced
   hindrance for silviculture and reduced fire risk.
   Grazing, in all agroforestry systems, should be undertaken with
   extreme care in very early years, as the valuable forest crop can be
   devastated by a few days of neglect. In situations where parts of
   farms have been planted by farmers, or in association with farmers,
   then it is likely that understorey grazing will be an integral part
   of farm management.
   Timberbelts (shelterbelts managed for timber instead of, or in
   addition to, their shelter benefit) are an increasing part of New
   Zealand's landscape. Pruned trees, perhaps in combination with
   unpruned trees of another species, are expected to yield high prices
   in future years, despite the somewhat inferior wood quality that they
   may possess. The technology is still fairly new, and few timberbelts
   have yet been harvested.

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