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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Laboratory for Agriculture and The Environment » Soil, Water & Air Resources Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #358293

Research Project: Utilization of the G x E x M Framework to Develop Climate Adaptation Strategies for Temperate Agricultural Systems

Location: Soil, Water & Air Resources Research

Title: Agroforestry practices for soil conservation and resilient agriculture

item Sauer, Thomas - Tom
item DOLD, CHRISTIAN - Orise Fellow
item Ashworth, Amanda
item NIEMAN, CHRISTINE - Orise Fellow
item HERNANDEZ-RAMIREZ, GUILLERMO - University Of Alberta
item DIRK, PHILIPP - University Of Arkansas
item GENNADIEV, ALEXANDER - Moscow State University
item CHENDEV, YURY - Belgorod State University

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/9/2020
Publication Date: 10/23/2021
Citation: Sauer, T.J., Dold, C., Ashworth, A.J., Nieman, C.C., Hernandez-Ramirez, G., Dirk, P., Gennadiev, A.N., Chendev, Y.G. 2021. In: Udawatta R.P., Jose S. editors. Agroforestry and Ecosystem Services. Cham, Switzerland. Springer. p.19-48.

Interpretive Summary: Agroforestry involves growing trees and crops together on the same land. The trees provide shade or protection from wind and may produce wood, biomass for bioenergy, fruits and nuts, or fodder for grazing animals. In this chapter the soil conservation aspects of agroforestry practices are reviewed. Trees protect the soil from erosion by water and wind. Tree canopies intercept raindrops and the leaf litter on the soil surface reduces raindrop impact and soil detachment. Trees also reduce wind speed near the soil surface, which results in less wind erosion. In addition to reducing erosion, agroforestry practices promote soil health by improving organic matter and nutrient cycling. This research is important to researchers, farm managers, and policymakers interested in promoting practices that enhance agroecosystem resiliency.

Technical Abstract: The standard agroforestry practices, windbreaks, riparian buffers, silvopasture, alley cropping, and forest farming have many variations due to climate, soil, and economic factors. The perennial woody vegetation of agroforestry practices contribute to soil conservation by providing year-round surface cover that protects the soil from water and wind erosion. This stabilization of the surface soil enhances infiltration, which increases soil moisture in the surface layer and supports root exploration and biological activity. In temperate climates, tree windbreaks also capture drifting snow that, after spring snowmelt, contributes an important source of additional water in semiarid areas. In this chapter we will present the topic of soil conservation with agroforestry practices through three focused regional perspectives. Although agroforestry practices can be modified to suit available socioeconomic and natural resources, several practices have evolved to become more common in particular regions. These case studies focus on regions of high adoption or long history of these practices although concepts and findings are application to areas of similar climate and soils. The incorporation of trees into agroecosystems often addresses a particular resource limitation or environmental concern. In all cases, a more productive agricultural system is better able to compensate for market, climate, and other stresses. After the discussion of regional studies a brief summary is provided to unify concepts and provide general conclusions.