Cover of issue.

Current Issue

Why Agroforestry? Part II

As we searched for stories on the topic of "Why Agroforestry?" for Inside Agroforestry, we heard so many insightful experiences and perspectives that we decided to create two issues.

Publication cover.

Current Info Sheet

How does agroforestry help crop pollination?

Around Agroforestry Archive

National Agroforestry Center 2017 Highlights Report Now Available!

Posted March 5, 2018

Annual Report cover.

In FY2017, the USDA National Agroforestry Center (NAC) updated AgBufferBuilder, a tool that helps natural resource professionals design cost-effective buffers to improve water quality, worked with Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) to inventory trees outside forests for ecosystem services accounting, promoted food security through pollinator conservation, worked with partners to provide opportunities through increased land access, and increased information access through new online resources. These are just some of the highlights found in the National Agroforestry Center: 2017 Highlights report.

To read all of the FY2017 highlights, download your copy of the report today!

Website Domain Name Change

Posted January 8, 2018

You’ve found the National Agroforestry Center at its new location:

https://www.fs.usda.gov/nac

Please update your bookmarks, favorites, and links on web pages and documents. New location, same familiar web site. Please note, the content and navigation of this site has not changed, but here are some helpful links to send you on your way:

If you have trouble finding a page or encounter any issues with the website, please contact Joseph Banegas, Information Assistant, at josephpbanegas@fs.fed.us.

Thank you!

Happy Pollinator Week!

Posted June 20, 2017

First page

The National Agroforestry Center has published a new Agroforestry Note titled, “Using Agroforestry Practices to Reduce Pesticide Risks to Pollinators and Other Agriculturally Beneficial Insects.” This Agroforestry Note explores the concerns of how pesticides can negatively affect pollinators and how agroforestry can help mitigate those risks. Read how producers can use agroforestry to reduce pesticide risk for pollinators…

The National Agroforestry Center also has a suite of publications that describe the role agroforestry can play in supporting pollinators.

Annual Report – Fiscal Year 2016

Posted June 14, 2017

Annual Report cover.

Across America, farmers, ranchers, and forest owners are working with natural resource professionals to integrate forestry and agriculture – and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agroforestry Center (NAC) is leading the way. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, the National Agroforestry Center (NAC) was engaged in an array of research and technology transfer activities addressing water quality and other ecosystem services, as well as soil conservation and expanded income opportunities, through an array of agroforestry practices. Take a look at some of the NAC's accomplishments from the previous year.

USDA Announces Over $60 Million in Grant Availability for the Specialty Crop Industry

Posted March 8, 2017

The U. S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is making more than $60 million in grants available to support farmers growing fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, and nursery crops, also known as specialty crops. The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) grants are allocated to U.S. states and territories for projects that help support projects including research, agricultural extension activities, and programs to address the needs of America's specialty crop industry. Read the full announcement…

Plains Farms Need Trees: A History of the U.S. Forest Service and Agroforestry

Posted January 27, 2017

Plains Farms Need Trees cover.

Since the 1930s, the Forest Service has had a long-standing role in advancing the science and practice of using trees on farms. This article, written by former National Agroforestry Center Director, Andy Mason, and University of Nebraska Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, Sarah Karle, explores the Forest Service’s involvement in the Prairie States Forestry Project, the development of the “Lincoln Lab,” and the creation of the USDA National Agroforestry Center. Read the full article on page 13 of The Rendezvous newsletter…

Multifunctional Riparian Buffers: Synergies with Bioenergy Crops and Ecosystem Service Provision

Posted January 18, 2017

Dr. Michael Jacobson. Dr. Michael Jacobson.

In a NewBIO Webinar on January 17, 2017, Dr. Michael Jacobson, Penn State University Professor of Forest Resources, discussed establishing riparian buffers or replacing row crops with energy crops can reduce nutrient runoff in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. He explored methods such as nutrient credit trading for valuing ecosystem services and various payment options.

See the recording of the webinar…

 

Five Ways Agroforestry Can Grow Forest Products and Benefit Your Land, Your Pockets & Wildlife

Posted October 19, 2016

Non-timber Forest Product Calculator (NTFP) screen shot displayed on a computer monitor.
Riparian forest buffers enhance and protect aquatic resources filtering farm runoff and preventing erosion, support wildlife habitat, produce crops, improve water quality, and reduce flood damage. Photo credit: National Agroforestry Center.

Much of the beauty in American agricultural landscapes is complemented by the trees in those landscapes. Agroforestry practices support agricultural production and help improve water quality and air quality, soil health, and wildlife habitat. These working trees can also grow fiber, food, and energy. Private landowners, including farmers and ranchers, are in a great position to help conserve and protect our trees and forests.

Learn more about agroforestry on the USDA Blog…

New Silvopasture Resources for the Northeast

Posted June 20, 2016

Cattle grazing in an orchard.

Two new silvopasture resources have recently been released for the northeast US. In 2013, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Pennsylvania Grazing Lands Coalition, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, utilized grant funding through Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research Education program to collaborate with Dickinson College on a multiyear project to investigate and apply adaptive management for silvopasture establishment in both woody and open pasture environments. They created a  video that features thoughts and reflections of project participants including successes, issues experienced during the course of the project, and thoughts for the future.

Joe Orefice, Assistant Professor at Paul Smith’s College, with co-authors John Carrol and Leanne Ketner released A Photo Guide to Northeastern US Silvopasture. This guide is the result of research investigating silvopasture practices on farms in New York and New England.

Online training available on Assessing and Financing Regional Food Enterprises

Posted May 24, 2016

The USDA has released an online interactive training for all types of funders, from traditional financial institutions to nonprofit and philanthropic partners. The training helps funders to understand the work of regional food enterprises that are connecting local producers with local markets. USDA sees potential for investment in businesses in the middle of the supply chain, like local food hubs, processors, aggregators, and distributors. This investment would provide capital for anything from seed money to delivery trucks and sales staff to walk-in coolers. As these businesses start-up or scale-up, they in turn build demand for goods and produce from regional farmers.

Learn more at the USDA blog or start the free online training.

Local Food System Toolkit released by USDA, Colorado State

Posted May 11, 2016

Tomato clipart and text: Know your farmer. Know your food.

The USDA and Colorado State University have released a new resource, The Economics of Local Food Systems: A Toolkit to Guide Community Discussions, Assessments and Choices. This toolkit, developed by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), helps communities reliably evaluate the economic impact of investing in local and regional food systems. These activities contribute to USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF2) initiative, which coordinates efforts across USDA to support local and regional food systems. These resources may be useful to those working on financial planning, marketing, and food system development for crops and products produced in agroforestry systems.

Non-timber Forest Product Calculator now available!

Posted March 2, 2016

Non-timber Forest Product Calculator (NTFP) screen shot displayed on a computer monitor.

A new economic decision-support tool is now available for estimating the income potential from harvesting and selling non-timber forest products from an agroforestry planting. You can download this tool from the NAC website. This tool was developed in cooperation with the Virginia Tech, College of Natural Resources and Environment under a Conservation Innovation Grant from Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Virginia.

Silvopasture Works with Landscape, Climate to Meet Farming Goals

Posted December 2, 2015

Icelandic sheep grazing in an orchard.
Icelandic sheep mowing the orchard floor. Photo by Tobias Carter, Savanna Institute.

By Keefe Keeley, Savanna Institute

At Badgersett Research Farm near Canton, Minnesota, Icelandic sheep mow the orchard floor and add fertility for hickory and pecan trees, which in turn provide the sheep shade and shelter.

Although a subject of contemporary agricultural science, silvopasture has timeless roots. The word comes from the Latin “silva” for forest, or the Roman deity Silvanus, known for protecting woodlands, fields, and flocks of livestock. Aptly enough, silvopasture integrates these very elements of the farm.

Continue reading…

New Pollinator Publications

Posted November 13, 2015

National Agroforestry Center publication covers regarding pollinators.

The National Agroforestry Center has developed a number of publications that describe the role agroforestry can play in supporting pollinators. “How can agroforestry help pollinators?” is a two-page information sheet that highlights opportunities to recognize, protect, and enhance pollinator habitat. “Working Trees for Pollinators” is a six-page color brochure that illustrates important pollinators for food production and how agroforestry practices can be adapted to meet the needs of both pollinators and producers. The recent issue of our Inside Agroforestry newsletter is titled “Learn How You Can Use Agroforestry Help Pollinators”. Visit our Agroforestry Notes and Pollinators web pages for more information about pollinators and agroforestry.

North American Agroforestry Conference Presentations Now Online!

Posted July 23, 2015

The presentations from the 15th North American Agroforestry Conference held in Ames, Iowa in June 2015 are now available online.

See the recorded presentations on the Iowa State University Forestry Extension 2015 AgroForestry Conference web page…

Agroforestry: USDA Reports to America, Fiscal Years 2011–2012

Posted July 23, 2015

Agroforestry: USDA Reports to America, Fiscal Years 2011–2012 - Comprehensive Version cover.

The report Agroforestry: USDA Reports to America, Fiscal Years 2011-2012 - Comprehensive Version (PDF) is available online. It provides information from 2011 and 2012 on USDA's support for agroforestry told through case studies of farmers and woodland owners using agroforestry practices. The report also outlines the next steps USDA plans to take to support agroforestry and USDA resources that support agroforestry for landowners, natural resource professionals, researchers, and other partners. A short version of the report is also available: Agroforestry: USDA Reports to America, Fiscal Years 2011-2012 - In-Brief (PDF).

New Windbreak Economic Tool Available

Posted July 13, 2015

Windbreak Economic Model screen shot displayed on a computer monitor.

A new Windbreak Economic decision-making tool is now available for download on the NAC Web site. This economic tool was developed through a partnership of the National Agroforestry Center and the Center for Agroforestry at the University of Missouri. Special thanks to Larry Godsey, Missouri Valley College.

Forestry Best Management Practices by State

Posted June 9, 2015

Forestry Best Management Practices map.

The National Association of State Foresters and the U.S. Forest Service have an interactive map of information about Forestry Best Management Practices (BMPs). You can find out if BMP regulation in that state is regulatory, quasi-regulatory, or voluntary. Explore which agencies are responsible for BMP policy development.

See the Forestry Best Management Practices by State…

Forests, Trees and Landscapes for Food Security and Nutrition - A Global Assessment Report

Posted May 28, 2015

Forests, Trees and Landscapes for Food Security and Nutrition cover page.

The International Union of Forest Research organizations, IUFRO, has released a new report, “Forests, Trees and Landscapes for Food Security and Nutrition - A Global Assessment Report”. At the heart of this report is the understanding that forests and trees cannot, by themselves, replace the role of agriculture, but they are critically important to food security and nutrition. Also see the policy brief based on the full report, “Forests, Trees and Landscapes for Food Security and Nutrition - Contributing to the "Zero Hunger Challenge" (PDF).

Past Proceedings of North American Agroforestry Conferences

Posted March 11, 2015

The Association of Temperate Agroforestry, AFTA, in cooperation with the University of Missouri has now made available online proceedings from past North American Agroforestry Conferences, NAAC. The 2009, 2011, and 2013 proceedings are available. Work is continuing to add the 1989-2007 proceedings.

Get the proceedings on the North American Agroforestry Conference web page…

Webinar on Urban Buffer Restoration

Posted January 12, 2015

The Urban Waters Restoration Network hosted a webinar in December on “Urban Buffer Restoration - The Answer to Your Urban River’s Problems?” The webinar describes a range of buffer types and uses and shares research about their effectiveness at filtering pollutants, providing habitat, and providing other benefits. It also provides examples of how groups have successfully worked with local leaders and others to get buffers restored or protected. An online toolkit is also provided. More information and a recording of the webinar are available.

Iowa Farmers Encouraged To Try Agroforestry

Posted January 12, 2015

Results from a study conducted by Trees Forever and funded by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture show promise for several agroforestry crops suitable for Iowa soils and climate. Jeff Jensen, northwest Iowa field coordinator for Trees Forever, examined six agroforestry crops: hazelnut, black walnut, chestnut, aronia berry, Christmas tree and elderberry. The research project included interviews with more than 20 growers about the opportunities and barriers of each crop. The 35-page report provides information about site selection, marketing, cultivars, pest and disease issues, weed control, sources for seedlings and other resources. Read the entire report…

Forest Farming to the Forefront

Posted December 3, 2014

On October 25-26, 2014, the NAC participated in the Forest Farming to the Forefront Meeting held at the Arnot Forest in Van Etten, New York. This meeting brought together experts to discuss the future of forest-farmed products including woods grown mushrooms, ramps, medicinals, and fiddlehead ferns. Priya Jaishanker created a video describing the event…

Kansas' Aging Windbreaks

Posted December 3, 2014

KTWU's program Sunflower Journeys tells the history of Kansas' shelterbelts in a November 20 episode. The program includes information on their importance to local communities, locations where they were planted, and how they function. It also discusses how they are being affected by climate change. See the "Rural Vistas" episode…

The Truth about Trees

Posted December 3, 2014

"The Truth About Trees" is the first full-length documentary film series to explore the indispensable role of trees for all life on Earth. The series is slated for release in 2015. This group is making video histories of people who care for trees nationwide. The project is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the U.S. Forest Service, and Bartlett Tree Experts. Visit The Truth About Trees website…

USDA Expands Access to Credit to Help More Beginning and Family Farmers

Posted October 9, 2014

The microloan changes announced today will allow beginning, small and mid-sized farmers to access an additional $15,000 in loans using a simplified application process with up to seven years to repay. These efforts are part of USDA's continued commitment to small and midsized farming operations and new and beginning farmers.

For more information, see the USDA News Release…

Organic Cost Share Assistance Available

Posted September 8, 2014

Through the 2014 Farm Bill, cost share and assistance programs are available for organic producers and handlers for certification. Organic cost share programs reimburse individual organic operators up to 75 percent of their certification costs up to a maximum of $750 per category of certification. The USDA National Organic Program Fact Sheet and Frequently Asked Questions can help organic producers and handlers learn more about the programs and how to participate.

Non-Timber Forest Products Webinar Series

Posted August 11, 2014

This eight-part webinar series, beginning August 21, 2014, highlights the remarkable and diverse world of non-timber forest products (NFTP), ranging from an overview of the abundance and diversity of NTFPs to forest farming practices focused on particular marketable products. Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) refer to products other than timber that are harvested from woodlands. NTFPs include plants, parts of plants, fungi, moss, lichen, herbs, vines, shrubs, parts of trees, and other biological material that are either personally used or sold for their commercial value. This series is approved for Society of American Forests (SAF) continuing education credits. Registration and information for each of the webinars can be found on the webinar series flyer (PDF).

NCR-SARE Announces 2015 Call for Partnership Grant Proposals

Posted August 11, 2014

The call for proposals for the 2015 North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE) Partnership Grant Program is now available online. This grant program is intended to foster cooperation between agriculture professionals and small groups of farmers and ranchers to catalyze on-farm research, demonstration, and education activities related to sustainable agriculture. The deadline for Partnership Program proposals is October 30, 2014. More information about this and other Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) grants available in other regions is available.

NCR-SARE Announces 2015 Call for Research and Education Preproposals

Posted August 7, 2014

The 2015 North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (NCR-SARE) Research and Education Grant Program Call for Preproposals is now available online on the NCR-SARE's Research and Education web page. The deadline for Research and Education Program preproposals is October 23, 2014.

RFD-TV’s “Out on the Land” features episodes about silvopasture and windbreaks

Posted July 9, 2014

George and Pat Owen’s silvopasture operation was featured on the July 1, 2014, episode of “Out on the Land”. Also watch the season 2 episode featuring Derek Lepke’s windbreaks in the Texas Panhandle.

New Website for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

Posted June 27, 2014

On June 23, 2014, USDA released the new New Farmers website for beginning farmers and ranchers. This resource will allow new farmers to access a centralized location for information on USDA programs relevant to them. It includes information on getting started, education and assistance, access to land and capital, managing risk, protecting the environment, and expanding business. Details on the website and policy changes in support of beginning farmers and ranchers are discussed in a press release.

Susan Stein Selected as New Director at the USDA National Agroforestry Center

Posted June 25, 2014

Susan Stein.
Susan Stein.

Susan brings extensive experience in technology transfer, working with researchers to communicate research results to managers, land owners, and policy-makers. Much of this work has been accomplished through forming and leading multidisciplinary teams from across the Federal government, as well as from universities, non-governmental organizations, and State governments.

Early in her career she served as the International Programs agroforestry coordinator, advising USAID missions on project design and improvement, providing training on project implementation, and synthesizing research. Susan has lead efforts to integrate open space conservation tools and practices into Forest Service programs, and lead the process producing the Forests on the Edge publications which are widely used by planners at all levels of government.

Susan has also advised Forest Service field units on compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, managed the National Forest Stewardship Program, and coordinated a White House Interagency Ecosystem Management Working Group.

Her educational background includes a Masters in Forestry (Yale School of Forestry, 1984) and an undergraduate degree in Psychobiology (Mount Holyoke College, 1979). She and her husband Bruce Stein live in Washington DC with their two sons, Noah (12) and Ben (15).

Contact Information: Susan Stein, Director – USDA National Agroforestry Center, sstein@fs.fed.us.

New Pilot Program Offers Coverage for Diversified Farms

Posted June 23, 2014

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new risk management option that will be available for fruit and vegetable growers and producers with diversified farms. Many agroforestry systems are part of diversified operations. Whole-Farm insurance allows farmers to insure all crops on their farm at once, rather than insuring commodity by commodity. The program will be implemented in counties across the country and will expand in availability over the next several years.

Read more about the new pilot program for diversified farms…

Inside Agroforestry Newsletter Now Available

Posted June 10, 2014

Newsletter cover page.

The USDA National Agroforestry Center has just released the latest issue of the Inside Agroforestry Newsletter. This issue features locally produced foods, plant a tree of life, the emerging role of food hubs, and steep hills meet steep demand.

Exploring New Options for Agroforestry

Posted February 28, 2014

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) soil scientist Tom Sauer is working to bring more trees to the Central Plains, and he's expanding their role.

Read more on the USDA Blog…

Best Management Practices for Log-Based Shiitake Cultivation

Posted January 30, 2014

With funding from a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) grant, Cornell University and University of Vermont Cooperative Extension have published a new guide to Best Management Practices for Log-Based Shiitake Cultivation. This guide includes up to date research and recommendations for farmers and gardeners. Review the guide in PDF format…

See other information and factsheets about mushroom cultivation on the Northeast Forest Mushroom Growers Network website…

Living Snow Fences in New York State

Posted November 20, 2013

The State University of New York – College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) collaborated with the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) to install additional living snow fences and conduct research on existing snow fences. Their website provides fact sheets, cost benefit models, training information, research results, and examples relevant to living snow fences in New York State and beyond.

Secretary Vilsack Highlights First-Ever Report on USDA Efforts to Expand Agroforestry Practices on Farms, Ranches and Woodlands

Posted October 28, 2013

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today released the first-ever report on USDA's role advancing agroforestry. Agroforestry: USDA Reports to America (PDF) details how agroforestry practices are helping farmers, ranchers and woodland owners enhance agricultural productivity, protect the environment and increase profits. Read the press release…

In addition, we are launching new, enhanced USDA Agroforestry website, and have established an inbox for our customers to send their questions and comments about the report and USDA’s role in agroforestry: agroforestry@USDA.gov.

Videos About Ramps and Mushroom Production

Posted September 16, 2013

The USDA National Agroforestry Center working with Virginia Tech University has developed two series of YouTube videos about production of Ramps and Shiitake Mushrooms. These videos are now available through the eXtension Forest Farming website and on YouTube. A big thanks to partners at Cornell University and the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station working with VaTech to make these and future videos available.

For additional resources, see our Forest Farming web page…

Agroforestry a Part of Award Winning Casey Tree Farm Master Plan

Posted September 13, 2013

A team of faculty and students from Virginia Tech has won the Casey Trees Master Plan Design Competition out of a field of four finalist teams, which was narrowed down from over fifty initial proposals. The plan includes recommendations from Associate Professor John Fike of the Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for three agroforestry approaches to crop production: alley cropping, silvopasture, and forest farming.

Read more about the Casey Trees Master Plan Design Competition…

Dust Bowl Worries Swirl Up As Shelterbelt Buckles

Posted September 11, 2013

Windbreaks and Droughts have a long history together in the Great Plains and the story continues even today.

Listen to the NPR-All Things Considered report by Joe Wertz…

Agroforestry in Costa Rica Highlighted on NPR

Posted June 11, 2013

As part of the NewsHour's series “Food for 9 Billion,” special correspondent Sam Eaton reports on a push in Costa Rica to embrace forest preservation and biodiversity while keeping up with the demand for farming. “In the past, farms were generally considered to be ecological deserts, completely barren of the rich biodiversity that exists on nature preserves. But, as scientists study more and more small farms like this one, with its mix of trees and coffee, trees and food crops, they're finding that an incredible amount of biodiversity can coexist with food production.”

View the NPR report, Using 'Nature as an Asset' to Balance Costa Rica's Farming With Preservation…

New Agroforestry Center Information Sheets

Posted June 11, 2013

The USDA National Agroforestry Center has released two new Information Sheets: What is Silvopasture? and Mitigating Heat Stress in Cattle. This is a new series of single-page publications NAC created this last year to help communicate the value and relationship of agroforestry to address the many issues facing agriculture, forestry and conservation.

Go to the Working Trees Info Sheets web page…

USDA Blog Highlights Windbreaks in South Dakota

Posted June 11, 2013

Ken Mouw, has used a shelterbelt—a band of trees and shrubs—to protect his Elk Point, South Dakota farm against rough weather over the past 10 years. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Union County Conservation District helped Mouw design the shelterbelt to protect his farm from the northern and western winds, and keep snow from collecting in his driveway during a snow storm.

Read more about windbreaks in South Dakota…

Island Forestry: Different landscape, similar themes

Posted May 22, 2013

The May 2013 insert to the latest issue of the National Association of Conservation District's (NACD) “Forestry Notes” focuses on “Island Forestry”.

“Restoration projects can serve another purpose. On some islands, groups are interested in establishing native trees in order to build the canoes that once were an integral part of Pacific Island culture. Adds Lawrence, ‘There's a growing interest for what they call on Guam “amot,” or getting back to using native plants for healing, food and agroforestry.’ ”

Read more about Island Forestry in the Forestry Notes: Special Report (PDF, 502 KB)…

Agroforestry Always in Practice

Also in the May 2013 Forestry Notes: Special Report, “One thing leaders at the National Agroforestry Center in Lincoln, Nebraska will tell you is that the idea of agroforestry sticks, just not always the name. The same is true in the islands, even though farmers and landowners there have been practicing agroforestry for centuries—eons, maybe. No one knows. It's part of the way they manage their land, not just an efficient practice for maximizing yield.”

Midwest Group Helps Agroforestry Efforts Take Root

Posted March 28, 2013

A group of researchers, agency representatives, educators, farmers, and nonprofit consultants from five Midwest states met recently in Ames, IA to discuss the opportunities related to agroforestry. All are part of the three-year-old Mid-American Agroforestry Working Group, also known as MAAWG. The theme of the March 19-20, 2013, meeting was "From Seedling to Sapling: Advancing Agroforestry into Working Landscapes."

"I think we're only beginning to tap into the many opportunities related to agroforestry, especially among women landowners, beginning farmers, people on acreages, and farmers with pockets of land less suitable for row crops," said Jeri Neal, who coordinates MAAWG's efforts through the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. The Leopold Center hosted the March meeting with support from the USDA National Agroforestry Center.

MAAWG member Tom Wahl owns Red Fern Farm in southeast Iowa and agreed that agroforestry information is needed, especially among landowners. "We need to be more aggressive in helping landowners see that they have options to produce a wide variety of woody crops that can compete with the financial returns from commodities like corn and soybeans," he said.

Currently, MAAWG efforts are focused in Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. For more information about agroforestry in the Mid-American region, visit the Mid-American Agroforestry Working Group (MAAWG) website.

Nontimber Forest Products Article

Posted February 8, 2013

A new article in the January 2013 issue of the Journal Forestry, Opportunities for Enhancing Nontimber Forest Products Management in the United States (PDF, 96 KB), looks at the opportunities and barriers to the management of nontimber forest products, NTFPs, in the U.S. Results from a synthesis of literature related to harvesters and forest managers indicate that many NTFPs have considerable markets but most are inadequately monitored, economically underregulated, and ecologically poorly understood.

FAO Media Centre: New policies needed to promote agroforestry

Posted February 5, 2013

The FAO, Food and Agriculture Organization, released the publication of the Agroforestry Guidelines entitled "Advancing Agroforestry on the Policy Agenda. A guide for decision-makers" (PDF, 1.7 MB). The USDA Agroforestry Strategic Framework is highlighted on page 30 of the guide. Read the full press release…

Video on Upper Midwest Hazelnut Development Initiative

Posted January 15, 2013

Title frame of Upper Midwest Hazelnut Development Initiative video.

A new video from the Upper Midwest Hazelnut Development Initiative is available on YouTube. This 17 minute video provides an excellent overview of the work being done by this collaboration of growers and researchers working to develop a sustainable hazelnut industry in the Upper Midwest. This Initiative is also co-sponsoring the Upper Midwest Hazelnut Growers meeting March 1-2, 2013, in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Agroforestry Academy SARE Proposal Recognized

Posted January 10, 2013

At the University of Missouri, Michael Gold's $72,484 Professional Development Program grant project is a joint effort among five Midwestern states. It will create an Agroforestry Academy for professional development of natural resource professionals, extension agents, and other educators, to advance adoption of agroforestry as a cornerstone of productive land use in the Midwest. Gold’s project has been named as the 2012 Paula Ford Professional Development Program Proposal of the Year.

The giving tree: Agroforests can heal food systems and fight climate change

Posted December 12, 2012

Annuals — i.e. corn, soybeans, and many other vegetables that have to be planted and harvested every year — are labor-intensive and come with steep environmental costs such as erosion, soil degradation, and nutrient runoff. Permaculturists like Mark Shepard see planting fruit and nut trees and other perennials — which only need to be planted once, and then, once mature, continue to produce year after year — as a key to sustainable food systems. His 106-acre farm in southwestern Wisconsin is filled with hazelnuts, chestnuts, pine nuts, currants, berries, apples, and much more. Read more about Mark's efforts…

Buffers for Biomass Production: A Review

Posted November 15, 2012

The European paper, Buffers for biomass production in temperate European agriculture: A review and synthesis on function, ecosystem services and implementation (PDF, 1.4 MB), reviews the biophysical knowledge on buffer functioning and associated ecosystem services. It describes how a three-zone buffer design, with arable fields buffered in combination by grassland, short rotation forestry (SRF) or coppice (SRC) and undisturbed vegetation along water courses, can be incorporated into farming landscapes as productive conservation elements and reflects on the potential for successful implementation. The National Agroforestry Center publication, Conservation Buffers: Design Guidelines for Buffers, Corridors, and Greenways provides the next step by providing specific guidance for designing these features to accomplish multiple objectives including biomass production.

New Non-Timber Forest Products Publications

Posted September 13, 2012

The Virginia Cooperative Extension and the US Forest Service Southern Research Station have teamed up to create two new Fact Sheets. These two publications are a result of a demonstration partnership supported by the USDA National Agroforestry Center. They have practical information on native plants and how to include them as an income producing component in conservation practices.

Have you seen the new eXtension Forest Farming website?

Posted September 13, 2012

The new Forest Farming eXtension web site is still being developed. But you are invited to ask questions of the experts. Your questions will not only be answered, but they will help build the Frequently Asked Questions section of the website.

See what’s new on the Forest Farming page and ask the experts…

Forest Farming Webinar now online

On May 16, James Chamberlain of the USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, presented a webinar on "Forest Farming Non-Timber Products: Opportunities & Challenges." If you missed the presentation, please go here for more information and directions on how to view and listen to this webinar. You also may read the CompassLive story on Dr. Chamberlain's webinar…

U.S. and Canada partnership to promote agroforestry

On April 17, 2012, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a cooperative partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Canada's Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food that will promote agroforestry to help landowners improve water quality, control soil erosion and boost their agriculture production. Read the whole story…

N.Y. lawmakers vote to promote silvopasturing

To give farmers a greater incentive to convert forested acreage into silvopasture, the New York State Senate recently voted to amend the state’s agricultural assessment program to include silvopasturing.

Journal of Forestry features Agroforestry lead article by NAC scientists Mike Dosskey, Gary Bentrup and Michele Schoeneberger

A Role for Agroforestry in Forest Restoration in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley (PDF, 2.2 MB) is the cover story in the Journal of Forestry’s January/February 2012 issue. The article explores agroforestry options and their potential to provide both profits for farmers and restore important functions and values of bottomland hardwood forests in a region where about two-thirds of the original forest has been cleared and converted to agriculture. More details available at the Journal of Forestry.

Green Infrastructure assistance from EPA

EPA is now accepting letters of interest from communities interested in receiving direct assistance for projects that facilitate the use of green infrastructure to protect water quality. The total EPA assistance available through this RLI is approximately $950,000, and will be distributed among 10-20 projects.  The value of the assistance available to each project will be approximately $50,000 - $100,000. Letters of interest must be received by April 6, 2012. For more information, please see the Request for Letters of Interest (PDF, 5 pp, 77K).

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map online

The 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location.

Changes in climate may impact walnut trees

The online magazine ScienceDaily is reporting that a study by a Purdue University research team found that “the warmer, drier summers and extreme weather events considered possible as the climate changes would be especially troublesome — possibly fatal — for walnut trees.”

The magazine reported that "(O)ver five years, Douglass Jacobs, a professor of forestry and natural resources, and Martin-Michel Gauthier, a former doctoral student under Jacobs who is now a research scientist in the Ministry of Natural Resources in Quebec, studied the physiology of walnut trees, which are economically significant in Indiana for their lumber and veneer, and in other areas for their nuts. They found that the trees are especially sensitive to particular climates." See the study abstract and preview at: Annals of Forest Science.

afNYtimes
Photo by Anne Sherwood for The New York Times.

A Quiet Push to Grow Crops Under Cover of Trees

By JIM ROBBINS
Published in the Nov. 22, 2011, Science section of The New York Times

HELENA, Mont. — On a forested hill in the mountains north of Montana’s capital, beneath a canopy of pine and spruce, Marc and Gloria Flora have planted more than 300 smaller trees, from apple and pear to black walnut and chestnut.

Beneath the trees are layers of crops: shrubs like buffalo berries and raspberries, edible flowers like day lilies, vines like grapes and hops, and medicinal plants, including yarrow and arnica.

Turkeys and chickens wander the two-acre plot, gobbling hackberries and bird cherries that have fallen from trees planted in their pen, and leaving manure to nourish the plants.

For the Floras, the garden is more than a source of food for personal use and sale. Ms. Flora, an environmental consultant and former supervisor for the United States Forest Service, is hoping it serves as a demonstration project to spur the growth of agroforestry — the science of incorporating trees into traditional agriculture.

The extensive tree canopy and the use of native plants, she says, make the garden more resilient in the face of a changing climate, needing less water, no chemical fertilizers and few, if any, pesticides. “It’s far more sustainable” than conventional agriculture, she said.

The idea is to harness the ecological services that trees provide. “Agroforestry is not converting farms to forest,” said Andy Mason, director of the Forest Service’s National Agroforestry Center. “It’s the right tree in the right place for the right reason.&rdquo

The Department of Agriculture, the Forest Service’s parent agency, began an initiative this year to encourage agroforestry.

Forests: A potential solution in fight against hunger

More attention to forest foods ans services can improve food security in poor nations. The role of forests in providing timber and other wood products must not overshadow their important contribution to feeding many of the world's poorest communities, a group of international forest organizations and secretariats said today.

According to the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), of which FAO is an active member, forests can play an even greater role in feeding the world and helping farmers cope with climate change, but their potential to do so is not being fully realized.

With nearly one billion people in the world suffering from chronic hunger, the CPF said the potential of forests and trees to improve food and nutritional security needs more attention from national and regional policymakers and international development agencies. Read more on the FAO website…

Michele Schoeneberger, NAC researcher, is a contributing author of a new report on climate change from the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, CAST.

The report, Carbon Sequestration and Greenhouse Gas Fluxes in Agriculture: Challenges and Opportunities, gives detailed scientific explanations, and examines the causes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, how they might be managed and what the environmental, economic, and policymaking consequences might be. While heated debates about climate change often seem to cloud the issue, science-based research provides clarity and the most credible foundation for decision makers. The full text of Task Force Report 142 is available in hard copy ($50.00, plus shipping) and electronically ($10.00 download fee) through the CAST website.

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About Agroforestry

Agroforestry intentionally combines agriculture and forestry to create integrated and sustainable land-use systems. Agroforestry takes advantage of the interactive benefits from combining trees and shrubs with crops and/or livestock. Agroforestry practices include:

About the NAC

The USDA National Agroforestry Center (NAC) had its origins in the 1990 Farm Bill. It began as a Forest Service Research and State & Private Forestry effort in 1992 and expanded into a partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in 1995. It is administered by the Forest Service's, Washington, DC, Office of Research and Development. NAC offices are located in Lincoln, Nebraska.

NAC accelerates the application of agroforestry through a national network of partners. Together, we conduct research, develop technologies and tools, coordinate demonstrations and training, and provide useful information to natural resource professionals.

About Working Trees

The right trees planted in the right places for the right reasons can add value to land-use systems. That's the Working Trees message that helps natural resource professionals, community leaders, and landowners identify with the concept of agroforestry. NAC uses the Working Trees theme to promote the development of sustainable agriculture and communities.

 

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