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Agroforestry Overview Silvopasture Alley Cropping Pasture Supplement Wind Breaks Water Management Forage Trees Beneficial Trees, Shrubs, and Vines

Agroforestry Overview:

Agroforestry can be used to restore the balance and fertily of an ecosystem and increase profitabilty. Below are some examples:

Dr. Miguel Altieri - ecological farms
Sustainable agriculture on the Loess Plateau
EverGreen agriculture in Africa
Diversity of ecoagriculture in Africa
Mark Shepard on Restoration Agriculture
Badgersett - woody agriculture efficiency
Historic Agroforestry
University of Missouri - forest crop diversity
Perennial Solutions - nitrogen fixers ranked


Silvopasture can actually increase productivity by increasing nitrogen levels with trees like Italian Alder, sterile Paulownia, sterile Black Locust, etc. Fertile varieties can be used and then use pollarding to prevent seeding. The trees need to be tall and strong to resist cattle.

Nut and legume trees can increase the productivity of the land and they can also be grown for timber; Walnut, Chestnut, Heartnut, Pecan, Hickory, acorn Oak, Honey Locust, etc.

Living Web Farms - cold climate silvopasture
VTForages - Silvopasture with Honeylocust
Forest Connect - Silvopasture with Honeylocust
Mark Shepard - silvopasture
KYForages - shade benefits animals

Alley Cropping:

Trees and shrubs are used in alley cropping for wind breaks, erosion control, fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere, making potassium available through coppicing and wood chipping, improving field drainage, providing beneficial insect habitat, etc. They can be mixed with habitat plants where coppicing is used to keep the strip narrow and short.

Trees / shrubs that produce nitrogen are ideal candidates; Italian Alder, Paulownia, Black Locust, Siberian Pea Shrub, Autumn Olive, Seaberry, American Silverberry, Buffaloberry, etc. They can be coppiced to reduce competition with the primary crop for light, prevent production of seed, prevent invasiveness, etc. Coppicing trees will automatically cause the roots to die back which prevents competition with the primary crop and releases nitrogen. Many of these trees/shrubs will give meat and milk a bad flavor if foraged by cattle. Some of them are hosts to diseases that affect certain crops; see descriptions further down.

University of Missouri - alley cropping
USDA - alley cropping
US Forest Service - agroforestry mitigates extreme weather events
Agroforestry - improves micro-climate
Agroforestry in Europe

Pasture Supplement:

Coppicing can be used to keep fodder accessable for animals as a complement to pasture. Edible trees should be grown such as poplar, willow, alder, aspen, linden, paulownia, elm, ash, locust, mulberry, elderberry, etc. See descriptions of these trees further down.

MOFGA - elm, ash, linden, locust, willow, poplar
United Diversity - elm, mulberry, elderberry, ash
New Zealand - poplar, willow
Researchgate - poplar, willow
Netherlands - willow, alder
Europe - willow, alder
Scientific Research - paulownia 
Agricology - elm, ash 
Semantic Scholar - poplar, elm, osage orange 
Utah State - aspen

Wind Breaks:

Evergreen windbreaks are most useful around cattle pastures to provide wind protection during the winter. White Cedar and Blue Spruce are especially good winter wind breaks in very cold winter climates. Evergreens should not be browsed by cattle as they will impart a bad flavor. Some cedar, juniper, and hawthorn can contribute to apple rust. Cyprus or bamboo are better for hot regions.

Temperate Evergreen Windbreaks
Kansas State
Morton Arboretum
Plants Beautiful Nursery - evergreen
Purdue - Juniper and Cedar diseases
University of Florida
Forestry - Snowdrift
USDA - Snowdrift

Water Management:

Use permaculture and silvopasture techniques to create micro-habitats. Use swales, berms, ditches, dry wells, etc. to control flooding and droughts. Plant trees and shrubs that are both fairly water and drought tolerant on the downside of the berm where drought tolerance is not as important and roots can grow under the berm to help secure it. On top of the berm, plant extremely drought tolerant grasses, legumes, and forbs. Do not plant trees or bushes on the top of berms as their mature weight will eventually cause the berm to sink.

John D. Liu - Green Gold
Mark Shepard - restoration agriculture
Berms and Swales
Keyline water management Australia
Water and soil erosion in Wisconsin
Soil erosion in Africa

Trees, shrubs, and vines which are the most tolerant of waterlogged soil are listed in the links below. They should be planted down hill below berms. The most water tolerant are Black Willow, Serviceberry, American Persimmon, and Cottonwood. Moderately flood tolerant includes Honey Locust, Mulberry, Blueberry, Pecan, Tulip Tree, Seaberry, Aronia, Elderberry, Blackberry, Honey Berry, Raspberry, Ginkgo, Cranberry, Cornelian Cherry, Viburnum, Redbud, Paw Paw, Hickory, etc. One advantage of swales and berms is that the water should naturally be very well oxygenated so plants have a better chance of long term flood tolerance.

USDA Forest Service - water tolerance
Iowa State - water tolerance
Penn State - water tolerance

Clemson - water tolerance
Univ Tennessee - trees that tolerate waterlogged soils
Australian trees that tolerate Waterlogged soils
Iowa State - trees that tolerate Waterlogged soils
Michigan State - water tolerant trees

Some of the trees and shrubs will need to be shade tolerant. Some of the more shade tolerant varieties are persimmon, serviceberry, paw paw, aronia, winterbloom, Viburnum, redbud, chokeberry, hops, cornelian cherry, currant, blackberry, raspberry, seaberry, etc.

Penn State - shade tolerance
Univ of Minnesota - share tolerance

Forage Trees:

All of these trees can be coppiced to keep them accessable to animals.


Willow (Salix spp.):

(Point of origin: Europe, Western Asia) Advantages: Leaf forage. Roots can go deep so leaf is mineral rich. Reproduces from rhizomes. Some varieties are ideal for planting near berms: Salix nigra - very tolerant of water Salix alba - somewhat tolerant of water Salix bebbiana, exigua, interior, scouleriana - flood and drought tolerant Disadvantages: Roots can invade water pipes. Information: Wikipedia University of Connecticut Canadian Journal of Botany: P. nigra - drought resistance Drought tolerant willows - bebbiana, exigua, interior, scouleriana USDA: Intermountain browsing willows for uplands - scouleriana Willow *******

Cottonwood (Populus spp.):

(Point of origin: North America) Advantages: Only moderately tolerant of drought. Some varieties are ideal for planting near berms: Populus deltoides - somewhat tolerant of water Disadvantages: Black Poplar is toxic Information: Poplar is the source of bee propalis Oxford Journals Northern State University USDA - Black Cottonwood Populus fremontii Zapata - drought tolerant Plains and Rio Grande Cottonwood ( monilifera and wislizeni ) *******

Alder (Alnus sp.):

(Point of origin: North America and Europe ) Advantages: Very good nitrogen fixer, uses Frankia. Young sprouts are excellant for all cattle. Depending on species and water conditions, roots can be shallow or deep. Most varieties are water tolerant, but Italian Alder is drought tolerant. Disadvantages: Catkins used as food by moths, but can also be used as food for domestic animals. New sprouts are easily overgrazed. Information: Wikipedia - Alnus sp. Alder - limited mycorrhizal species Alder - cross mycorrhizal species Alder - few shared networks *******

Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides):

(Point of origin: North America ) Advantages: Excellant for sheep and certain cattle such as Highland and Galloway. Heavy suckering tree so tolerates grazing. Roots can go deep so leaf is mineral rich. Disadvantages: Easily over grazed. Information: Aspen Wiki ********

Paulownia (Paulownia sp.):

Advantages: High nitrogen fixation. Fast growing. Drought tolerant. Excellent to strengthen hedgrows or for alley cropping. Disadvantages: Most Paulownia are very invasive. There are sterile selections which will not be invasive. Only hardy to zone 5. Host for Witches Broom. Best in dry conditions. Coppice in early spring to avoid freeze Information: Science of Paulownia Paulownia agricultural use in China Paulownia booklet Diseases of Paulownia - best in dry conditions *******

Linden or Basswood (Tilia americana):

(Point of origin: North America ) Advantages: Edible leaves Cattle find it very attractive Can be coppiced. Disadvantages: Butt rot Information: University of Kentucky - Linden used for cattle fodder USDA - high quality honey TCPermaculture - dynamic accumulator

Beneficial Trees, Bushes, and Vines:

Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia):

Advantages: High nitrogen fixation. Excellent to strenthen hedgrows. Fast growing. Very cold hardy. Disadvantages: Toxic to horses. Invasive. Small seed. Can overshade other species. Shipmast strain is mostly sterile. Information: Woodpeckers and wheelbugs are natural enemies of borers. Shipmast variety - mostly sterile Shipmast is borer resistant USDA - interplanting discourages pests Beneficial nematodes to prevent borers Source: Shipmast is hard to find. *********

Silverscape (Elaeagnus angustifolia x E. commutata):

Advantages: High nitrogen fixation. Drought tolerant. Very cold hardy. Excellent to strenthen hedgrows. Coppice early to stimulate nitrogen fixation. Disadvantages: Most Elaeangus sp. (such as autumn olive) are very invasive. Silverscape appears to be a sterile hybrid which should not be invasive. Information: Jefferies Nursery USDA trials *********

American Silverberry (Elaeagnus commutata):

Advantages: High nitrogen fixation. Drought tolerant. Very cold hardy. Disadvantages: Host to grain rust. Do not grow near grain. Information: NCBI - rust host USDA - rhizomatous Burnt Ridge Nusery - nutrients *********

Buffaloberry (Shepherdia argentia):

Advantages: High nitrogen fixation. Very cold hardy. Disadvantages: Contains saponin. Information: USDA - contains saponin ********

Hops (Humulus lupulus):

(Point of origin: Northern hemisphere) Properties: Produces acids that are antibiotic and insecticidal. Useful against honey bee varoa mite. Varieties: For high beta acids grow Southern Cross, Mt. Hood, or Pride of Kent. Variety descriptions Growing horizontally: University of Kentucky Yield drops but sometimes quality rises Information: Wikipedia Herbalgram blooming requirements Organic Limitations of beta acid *********

Willowwood Viburnum ( Viburnum rhytidophylloides x V. lantanaphyllum )

Properties: If managed properly, blooms in spring and again in the fall. Mulch heavily, full sun, never use nitrogen fertilizer. Fall blooms are especially attractive to beneficials. Information: FloriData - Willowwood Missouri Botanical Garden - Willowwood *********

Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)

Properties: In moist regions grows well to zone 5. Some cultivars have large amounts of nectar in their blossoms. Very attractive to parasitics. Information: Tulip Tree <\pre>
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