Temperate agroforestry is concerned with both protection of the natural resource base and income production. An emerging technology, it is neither totally agriculture nor forestry, but a union of the two. This provides a challenge, since part of the requirement for agroforestry to be established as a sustainable farming practice will be effective teamwork among experts from disciplines that have been traditionally compartmentalized by their own science, such as forestry, horticulture, and agriculture. There is a need for a cadre of resource professionals specifically trained to bridge the gap between the new technologies and their eventual users. Interagency and inter-organizational cooperation is necessary.
To facilitate this, the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry (UMCA) established a technology transfer program to foster the adoption of agroforestry in Missouri. Through the technology transfer program at UMCA, interagency partnerships have been established in the form of regional agroforestry teams which facilitate the cooperative effort. At present, there are six teams throughout the state of Missouri representing different ecological zones.
The purpose of the participatory agroforestry teams are to:
- Develop partnerships among agencies and organizations to maximize resources;
- Contribute their respective professional expertise in the design of agroforestry practices
- Share information on available incentives;
- Identify training needs for natural resource professionals and to train "trainers" to extend agroforestry;
- Implement field demonstrations of agroforestry practices in collaboration landowners and farmers; and,
- Create templates for the five temperate agroforestry practices so that each template is specific to the identified ecological zone.
The teams are anchored primarily by staff from the University of Missouri Outreach and Extension (U/OE), the Missouri Department of Conservation, Forestry Division (MDC) and the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), although other participation varies by team. Some teams have farmers, others have community development specialists, members of conservation/environmental groups or agricultural lenders. To date, there are over 100 members of the participatory agroforestry teams in Missouri.
An additional advantage to the team-training approach is that each of the natural resource professionals has their own client base. Because of this, they will reach more farmers and landowners than if only forestry professionals were trained, or only agricultural extension specialists.
Training is conducted in the classroom, on public demonstration sites and on private property with landowner participation. The basic agroforestry classroom session is designed to introduce the five temperate agroforestry practices and usually lasts a half-day. The more advanced classroom sessions offer training in the design and establishment of the practices and are held for two days. On sitedemonstrations afford the resource professional an opportunity to see how sites are assessed for their agroforestry potential and to participate as a team member to designing a practice in the field. These last half a day or a full day depending on the context.
When training sessions are held on a landowner's property, it is at the request of the landowner who has heard about agroforestry and wants to know if it can be applied on his/her property. Faculty at the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry take the lead in each training session although local natural resource professionals also participate.
Participatory agroforestry training has been an important technology transfer activity of the UMCA. In 1996, six basic one-day courses were attended by staff from UO/E, MDC and NRCS. With input from the three original agroforestry teams established in mid-1997 who had taken the basic course, a second course was designed: the Advanced Agroforestry Course held in Columbia, Missouri in February of 1998. Taught by invited faculty from Iowa State (riparian buffers), the University of Nebraska at Lincoln (windbreaks and shelterbelts), University of Kentucky (forest farming) and the University of Missouri-Columbia (alley-cropping and silvopasture), the in-depth course used case studies to cover the design of the five temperate practices.
During the course, natural resource professionals were organized into regional teams so they could design practices with species appropriate to their respective regions. As a result of this course, and to facilitate communication among trained natural resource professionals in the state, an agroforestry listserve has been established. On-site field training has also been held covering alley cropping, silvopastoral, riparian buffers and windbreak design.
Most of the funding for the advanced course was organized through the UO/E professional development program at the University of Missouri-Columbia and a small fee was charged to all other agency participants outside of UO/E. This is a good example of the inter-agency commitment to agroforestry training in the state of Missouri. Beyond sponsoring the course, UO/E has integrated agroforestry into its state program for agriculture and natural resources. The MDC has committed funds to the UMCA to support research in tree improvement for agroforestry as well as providing support for technology transfer activities. The NRCS works closely with the UMCA in the design of forested riparian buffers and windbreak design.
Future training will be done using a new agroforestry training manual developed at the UMCA. The manual has three sections. The first is a general "how to" design each of the five temperate agroforestry practices. The second section lists trees, crops, grasses, forages and legumes suitable for each county in Missouri. Natural resources professionals throughout the state have participated in supplying countyby-county information for part two. The third section is a series of "templates" or suggested designs for the practice, using the species suited to the region.
Information dissemination activities include the production of a five-part agroforestry video series and workbook for use in training natural resource professionals and farmers, as well as publication of a series of "guide" sheets which elaborate on the practices in Missouri. A Missouri Agroforestry Resource Directory was published in 1998 and will be updated in 2000. It has a county-by-county listing of all the agroforestry resource team members and their areas of expertise. Landowners practicing agroforestry are also listed with the type of agroforestry practice they have implemented and whether they are willing to host field days. Through the resource directory, natural resource professionals and landowners are able to contact others who are familiar with, or practicing, agroforestry in the state.
UMCA has a website (www.missouri.edu/UMCA) under construction. In the near future, the site will list the Center's mission, personnel, research activities, references to temperate agroforestry and other agroforestry links. A special section will be devoted to landowners who are practicing agroforestry. An interactive map of the state of Missouri will show a landowner's location and when clicked, the site will provide a photo of the type of agroforestry being practiced and information on how to contact that particular landowner.
It is estimated that well over 100 landowners are practicing agroforestry in the state of Missour, with all five temperate agroforestry practices represented. More traditional alley cropping practices vary from black walnut (Juglans nigra L.), grown for nuts or timber and intercropped with soybeans, corn, forage or wheat, to oak (Quercus spp.) intercropped with hay. Less typical systems include medicinal plants such as ginseng (Panax quinquefolium L.) intercropped between the walnuts trees in the row with the alleys providing an additional crop; ginko (Ginkgo biloba L.) intercropped with purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench); and pecans (Carya spp.) intercropped with wildflowers which are grown for wildflower seed or eastern gamma grass (Tripsacum dactyloides). Silvopastoral practices include grazing cattle in a walnut-forage alley configuration, to a native pecan plantation sewn with legumes. Most silvopastoral practices are grazed using a management intensive grazing system. Riparian buffers, some of which are managed for wildlife and produce income from lease-hunting, have been planted with a variety of trees including hazelnut (Corylus spp.), tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera L.), pecans or other flood tolerant species. Windbreaks are popular in the more northern areas of the state and have been established to protect cattle from harsh winter winds. Forest farming is also well establish primarily with herbaceous specialty crops such as ginseng and goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis L.). Many landowners are willing to host field tours to demonstrate their agroforestry practices.