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Why Agroforestry?

Agroforestry is a management system that combines agriculture and trees to address conservation needs and build more profitable and weather-resilient farms, ranches and communities. Agroforestry practices provide opportunities to integrate productivity and profitability with environmental stewardship resulting in healthy and sustainable agricultural systems that can be passed on to future generations.

Trees and shrubs can be included into agricultural systems in many ways. Depending on the situation and application, agroforestry practices can:

  1. provide protection for valuable topsoil, livestock, crops, and wildlife;
  2. increase productivity of agricultural and horticultural crops;
  3. reduce inputs of energy and chemicals;
  4. increase water use efficiency of plants and animals;
  5. improve water quality;
  6. diversify local economies and on-farm income;
  7. enhance biodiversity;
  8. improve air quality and sequester carbon; and
  9. support working lands at the landscape scale .
NRCS employee looking at coffee berries on the trees.
The 2017 Census of Agriculture revealed that there are 30,853 farms and ranches utilizing agroforestry practices on their land.

The United States is well positioned for an expanded application of agroforestry to address America’s most pressing economic, environmental, and social priorities, including jobs and rural prosperity, cleaner water for communities and downstream ecosystems, climate-resilient working landscapes, a safe, secure and nutritious food supply, and improved habitat/corridors for wildlife.

Agroforestry’s importance in the 21st century will increase both in the U.S. and globally as a means to sustainably produce the food, fiber, and bioenergy demanded by a world-wide population that is expected to exceed 9 billion people by 2050. The scientific basis for agroforestry in temperate North America has made great advances. Agroforestry can and should become part of an all-lands approach to conservation and economic development that is applicable throughout the rural to urban continuum and in all regions of the country.

Information Sheets


    Inside Agroforestry

    Agroforestry Notes


        More Publications

        • More Publications

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          Agroforestry Strategic Framework