Agroforestry Research Trust ART

The Agroforestry Research Trust is a non-profit making charity, registered in England, which researches into temperate agroforestry and into all aspects of plant cropping and uses, with a focus on tree, shrub and perennial crops … (full text Homepage).

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Address: ART, 46 Hunters Moon, Dartington, Totnes, TQ9 6JT, UK;
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About /Agroforestry: what is it?  The simplest definition of agroforestry is that it is the integration of trees and agriculture/horticulture to create a more diverse growing system. In agroforestry the aim is to promote more use of perennial crops, notably tree and shrub crops, for several reasons:  

  • Perennial crops are more resilient to the vagaries of the climate and more reliable in cropping than annually-cultivated crops. This may become increasingly important as climate change occurs: the latest indications are that the warming of the earth is occuring faster than anticipated and over the next 50 years, between 2° and 5°C rise in Britain looks likely. This will mean increasingly frequent droughts in summer, thus threatening many annual agricultural crops.
  • Modern agriculture is inefficient in energy terms, whereas agroforestry relies on perennial crops which need less labour and require less energy input to maintain than annual crops.
  • Perennial crops are much more sustainable in the long term, especially where they are planted in diverse mixtures which are planned to perform well together.
  • Perennial crops have other important benefits, some of which are less easy to quantify. Trees and forests are essential facets of life on earth and help control and regulate wind, moisture, rainfall, temperature and so on. They are also linked with cultural and spiritual values.

Agroforestry systems can vary in complexity from the very simple, eg occasional trees planted in pastures to provide shade, emergency forage and nitrogen (via nitrogen-fixing bacteria), to the more complex systems like forest gardens, which may utilise hundreds of species to create a self-sustaining and interconnected system.

Complex agroforestry systems (called forest gardens) are still common in many tropical regions, but this type of agroforestry is very recent in temperate climates. The Agroforestry Research Trust is particularly interested in researching and promoting this small-scale agroforestry which can be practised by anybody in their back garden, whatever its size.

The Agroforestry Research Trust: … (full long text).

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