Welcome to the May 2018 version of the Temperate Agroforester. The newsletter welcomes contributions for future issues and input or feedback about anything that you read in this issue.
Uma Karki, Christine C. Nieman, Steve Gabriel, Diomy Zamora and Callie Maron, Editors - Temperate Agroforester
May 28-30, 2018. 4th European Agroforestry Conference. Agroforestry as Sustainable Land Use. Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Call to Action
AFTA needs you! We need your research updates, blog posts, news items and other information to inform our followers. Contact: Andres Anchondo. We are also looking for volunteers to help with membership engagement and website content. Volunteer today to help keep AFTA moving foward.
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Steve Gabriel, Cornell University Small Farms Program, Wellspring Forest Farm, email@example.com
A common, yet underappreciated tree that has great potential for farms across the Northeast: Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia).
This tree, which has often been given a bad name for its opportunistic rapid growth and robust thorns, is said to be native to the Appalachian Mountain range, though it has become naturalized throughout the United States, southern Canada, and even parts of Europe and Asia. The species is incredibly adaptive, growing in many elevations, microclimates, and soil types.
Keefe Keeley, Co-Executive Director, Savanna Institute and Matt Wilson, Tree Crops Development Manager, Savanna Institute
At the Savanna Institute, we see opportunities for farms to be a part of transformative solutions. With this aim, we bring farmers and researchers together to develop agricultural systems that mimic an exceptionally productive ecosystem once common throughout the corn belts and bread baskets of the world: the savanna. We propose that agricultural savannas can be intentionally designed and intensively managed to produce food, fuel, and fiber, all the while maintaining or even restoring our natural resources. This approach adapts diverse agroforestry practices, including alley and multistory cropping, silvopasture, edible buffers, and forest farming.
Matt Stannard, Farm Commons
For beginning farmers, the leasing process can be the beginning of an ongoing relationship with land and others who care about it. With nearly 40% of all farmland under a lease, there’s a good chance that farmers entering the world of agroforestry will also enter the world of agricultural leases. Leases are private contracts granting a farmer-tenant the right to occupy and use a landowner’s property for agricultural purposes. In most instances, an agricultural lease isn’t terribly complex. The rights conveyed to the farmer-tenant are typically exclusive (only the farmer can occupy and use the property), and generally binding on future landowners. Leases are also usually transferable between farmer/operators. Of course, these and all other provisions can be modified if the parties require different terms.
Leasing allows new farmers access to land - including land well-suited to agroforestry - that they could not otherwise farm without a large upfront investment. Nevertheless, while beginning farmers may be excited about the prospect of agroforestry, they may be much less enthusiastic about the prospect of negotiating and signing a lease. They may see the process as an unpleasant hurdle to overcome in order to get to start working the land.
Jim Allen, Northern Arizona University
Food forests, which are also known as forest gardens or home gardens, have typically been associated with tropical regions. They are receiving increasing attention in temperate agroforestry circles, however, and articles about them have been published previously in both the AFTA (Crawford 1998) and USDA National Agroforestry Center newsletters (MacFarland 2014; Bukowski 2016).
Emily Sigman, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs
What does a university landscape look like? What does it feel like? And what does it accomplish?
Google image search the terms ‘college campus’ and you’ll get a good sense for what we collectively think the university landscape looks like. Pages and pages of results return images of sprawling lawns dotted with occasional ornamental trees; some images are entirely devoid of people, some show people walking across or through the landscape, and just a few might show a student or two sitting or lying on the ground. Beyond this, there is not a single image in the first 10 pages of Google results that show people interacting with the plants in the university landscapes that surround them.
The way university landscapes look—often by their very design—elicit particular feelings and worldviews about how successful, educated human beings interact with their environments. Indeed, non-interaction is regularly the assumed status quo in the relationships that students, faculty, and visitors have with the college campus. University landscaping tends to feel ornamental, with plants carefully placed to serve as a background to lives and activities otherwise separated from their immediate environments.
Dold, C.; Thomas, A.L.; Sauer, T.J.; Ashworth A. J., Philipp, D., Adams, T.C.
Climate-smart agriculture is an approach, which, among other objectives, helps mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural production (FAO 2018). Agroforestry systems (AFS) have drawn attention as climate-smart enterprises for temperate and subtropical regions, as they provide high net carbon (C) gains per area, while diversifying operations (Schoeneberger 2009; Schoeneberger et al. 2012). This article focuses on silvopastures (i.e., AFS with trees, forages, and livestock), but many aspects also apply to AFS in general. Estimated C sequestration rates for silvopastures in North America (i.e. trees, roots, and soil) range from approximately 1,600 – 5,400 lb per acre per year (Nair and Nair 2002; Udawatta and Jose 2012). The high degree of variation originates from the complexity of AFS (i.e., soil, climate, species composition, plant density, management, and AFS design). The online-tool COMET-Farm (Carbon Management Evaluation Tool) accounts for these differences, and provides producers the possibility to calculate C sequestration in AFS (Merwin et al. 2009; Ziegler et al. 2016; COMET-Farm 2018). Still, there is limited understanding of the variation in C pools (i.e. where C is stored in AFS and in what fraction) and fluxes (i.e. annual rates of change), especially as AFS mature, which is usually accompanied by reduced C sequestration rates. A comprehensive C budget (i.e. how much carbon enters and leaves the system) helps to understand where C is stored and how these C pools change over time. In general, the important C pools in silvopastures are the soil, trees, and forages. Trees and forages can be subdivided into categories, above- and below-ground biomass. The tree above-ground C pools are wood (twigs, branches, and trunk), leaves, and fruits, and for forages, the living green material and litter. The below-ground biomass is the tree and grass roots, plus associated organisms such as mycorrhizae. Another important C source is organic fertilizer, which introduces C from outside the system. Livestock also contributes to the C budget, through manure inputs and methane emissions.