Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Laboratory for Agriculture and The Environment » Soil, Water & Air Resources Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #283405

Title: Branching out: Agroforestry as a climate change mitigation and adaptation tool for agriculture

item SCHOENEBERGER, MICHELE - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS, USDA)
item BENTRUP, GARY - Us Forest Service (FS)
item DE GOOIJER, HENRY - Agri Food - Canada
item SOOLANAYAKANAHALLY, RAJU - Agri Food - Canada
item Sauer, Thomas
item BRANDLE, JIM - University Of Nebraska
item ZHOU, XINHUA - University Of Nebraska
item CURRENT, DEAN - University Of Minnesota

Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
Publication Type: Research Technical Update
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/18/2012
Publication Date: 9/10/2012
Citation: Schoeneberger, M.M., Bentrup, G., de Gooijer, H., Soolanayakanahally, R., Sauer, T.J., Brandle, J., Zhou, X., Current, D. 2012. Branching out: Agroforestry as a climate change mitigation and adaptation tool for agriculture. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. 67(5):128A-136A. DOI:10.2489/jswc.67.5.128A.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The United States and Canadian agricultural lands are being targeted to provide more environmental and economic services while at the same time their capacity to provide these services under potential climate change (CC) is being questioned. Predictions of future climate conditions include longer growing seasons that could potentially increase crop yields but also increased heat waves, floods, droughts, and insect and weed issues that may then adversely impact production. Climate change drives many stressors (i.e., fires and pests) and interacts with many non-climatic stressors (i.e., such as land use change). Creating profitable and healthy operations under this unpredictable interplay of factors driven by shifting climate (and, along with it, shifting markets) will be a daunting task. To minimize the risks and maximize services under such uncertain and variable conditions, it will be essential that farmers, ranchers and even communities have a variety of land management options at their disposal. The recent Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) Report: Carbon Sequestration and Greenhouse Gas Fluxes in Agriculture: Challenges and Opportunities discusses the need to adapt "management and land use to cope with the changes in climate and adopt mitigation strategies to decrease agriculture’s net contributions to greenhouse gas (GHG) production." These challenges can be met by maximizing soil and water conservation to develop sustainable systems essential to mitigate climate change and adapt to it. Agroforestry, the intentional integration of trees and/or shrubs into crop and animal production systems, is one of these potential tools; one that some consider "one of mankind’s best hopes to create a climate smart agriculture, increase food security, alleviate rural poverty, and achieve truly sustainable development." Agroforestry practices offer great potential to improve agriculture's ability to adapt to climate change and to mitigate climate change effects by modifying the local microclimate, increasing plant diversity, putting more perennial species on the land, and improving soil biophysical quality.