Concept of Agroforestry

Concept of Agroforestry

    Agroforestry is an age old practice, indeed very old. The scientific principles of agroforestry are Farmers of the warmer parts especially have long tradition of growing food crops, trees and animals together for producing multiple range of products. Trees and forests in fact an integral part of the Indian culture. The best of Indian culture was born in the forests. Our rishis who evolved the Hindu philosophy, lived in forests in complete harmony with the nature. In fact, so much has been said about trees in our ancient literature that planting tree was being done by individuals on their own along with agriculture crops. “Krishishukti” written by Maharishi Kashyap, classifies land into several categories and identifies areas which are suitable for planting trees: all wet and dry lands and areas around houses, wells, tanks are specifically identified for tree planting. But foresters and agriculturists, who have traditionally operated within rather rigid disciplinary boundaries concentrating on monoculture production of their preferred commodities of crops, animals and trees used to ignore such combined integrated production systems.

    More recently, however, the forest area has receded and resources have shrunk considerably. The people are no longer able to meet their requirements of firewood, fodder, timber, bamboo, etc. from the forest. Due to shortage of wood the prices of these commodities have, therefore, increased manifold. Many forest based industries have been facing problems in supply of raw material. Many farmers quite recently started planting trees on their farm lands to meet these shortages along with agriculture crop; thus from the concept of agroforestry it emerged out:

    • agroforestry is a collective name for land use systems involving trees combined with crops and/or animals on the same unit of land. Further it,
    • combines production of multiple outputs with protection of production base
    • places emphasis on the use of multiple indigenous trees and shrubs
    • is particularly suitable for low-input conditions and fragile environments
    • involves the interplay of sociocultural values more than in most other land-use systems
    • is structurally and functionally more complex than monoculture
    • Agroforestry is relatively new name of for set of old land use practices. Many definitions have been proposed world-wide. However it has now become an accepted land use system. Some of the definitions given by different workers are as follows:
    • Bene et al. (1977) defined agroforestry as a sustainable management system for land that increases overall production, combines agriculture crops, forest plants and tree crop and/or animals simultaneously or sequentially and applies management practices that are compatible with the cultural patterns of a local population.
    • King and Chandler (1978): “Agroforestry is a sustainable land management system which increases the overall yield of the land, combines the production of crops (including tree crops) and forest plants and/or animals simultaneously or sequentially, on the same unit of land and applies management practices that are compatible with the cultural practices of the local population.
    • Nair (1979) defines agroforestry as a land use system that integrates trees, crops and animals in a way that is scientifically sound, ecologically desirable, practically feasible and socially acceptable to the farmers.
    • According to Lundgren and Raintree (1982), agroforestry is a collective name for land use systems and technologies, where woody perennials (trees, shrubs, palm bamboos, etc.) are deliberately used in the same piece of land management units as agriculture crops and/or animals in some form of spatial arrangement or temporal sequence. In agroforestry systems, there are both ecological and economical interactions between the different components.
    Some of the basic ideas emerging from the definition of Agroforestry:
    • AF normally involves two or more species of plants (or plants and animals), at least one of which is woody
    • An *AFS always has two or more outputs
    • Cycle of the AFS is always more than one year
    • Positive and negative interactions are exhibited among components (tree, crop)
    • Even the simplest AFS is more complex ecologically (structurally and functionally) and economically, than a monocropping system

    Plate1.1 Agroforestry components OR Basic components of agroforestry
    Objectives of Agroforestry:
    In all agroforestry land management there are two essential and related aims such as
    • The AFS should conserve and improve the site
    • Optimize the combined production of tress, agricultural crops and animal
    Attributes of Agroforestry:
    There are three attributes which, theoretically, all agroforestry system possess, these are:
    • Productivity: Most, if not all, agroforestry systems aim to maintain or increase production (of preferred commodities as well as productivity (of the land). Agroforestry can improve productivity in many different ways. These include: increased output of tree products, improved yields of associated crops, reduction of cropping system inputs, and increased labour efficiency.
    • Sustainability: By conserving the production potential of the resource base, mainly through the beneficial effects of woody perennials on soils, agroforestry can achieve and indefinitely maintain conservation and fertility goals
    • Adoptability: The word “adopt” here means “accept” and it may be distinguished from another commonly used word adapt, which implies “modify” or “change.” The fact that agroforestry is a relatively new word for an old set of practices means that, in some cases, agroforestry was already been accepted by the farming community. However, the implication here is that improved or new agroforestry technologies that are introduced into new areas should also conform to local farming practices.

Last modified: Thursday, 7 February 2013, 9:49 AM