Agroforestry: Farming for the Future video and excerpts

Soils are our most precious resource. Levels of organic matter have been declining for 70 or 80 years – they’re bottoming out. It’s the carbon that’s in that soil organic matter that’s actually fueling the agricultural system. The beauty of the agroforestry system is that you’re gaining carbon at times of the year like today – we’re in the end of September, all the field crops are harvested, all the trees have leafs on – they’re still photosynthesizing, they’re still bringing carbon into the system, they’re still providing deep roots.

And the other bit that really attracted me is, ya’know, often we hear that there is no more land, but there’s a lot more space if we start to think about farming in a 3 dimensional way, by actually using the space above the ground and actually below the soil in a more imaginative way. And that’s what we’re trying to achieve with agroforestry, we’re farming up and we’re farming down as well as we’re farming across the landscape in a living fashion.

One of the positive aspects of agroforestry is we’re mixing perennial crops with annual crops, and in a more unpredictable climate – when we don’t know when we’re going to get extreme periods of drought or extreme periods of wet as we’ve seen in the past few years – we’re mitigating that risk by having a mixture of perennial crops and annual crops, whereby the perennial plants don’t need to start from scratch each year. To me, it’s a climate smart approach to mitigate try to mitigate those risks.

Often people look at an agroforestry system and think we’re taking land out of production and into trees, and I’d say it’s the reverse: we’re actually trying to make the farm more intensive, and we’re doing that by trying to capture more carbon and actually use more soil below the surface and more of the space above the ground and try and be more productive. It’s just two different kinds of production. What it does do is bring resilience to the farm in terms of climate change, reduces issues in relation to soil degradation, it adds biodiversity to the farm, and it also spreads labor…

Agroforestry: Farming for the Future

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