Agroforestry Systems in B.C.
Agroforestry is the intentional, integrated management of combinations of trees and/or shrubs with crops and/or livestock.
It combines agriculture, silviculture and conservation practices in the same land use system.
Five main agroforestry systems are practical for use in British Columbia:
- Windbreaks / Shelterbelts / Timberbelts / Buffers
- Alley Cropping
- Forest Farming
- Integrated Riparian Management
These are designed to perform specific jobs. Site conditions and desired function affect design and application, and help to determine the key features of the planting.
The intentionally integrated system known as silvopasture, can diversify revenue, enhance environmental benefits, and boost aesthetics of agricultural or forestry operations. Silvopasture blends management of trees, forages, and livestock.
- Silvopasture (PDF)
Alley cropping is an agroforestry system broadly defined as the planting of single or multiple rows of trees and/or shrubs at wide spacings to create alley-ways within which crops are cultivated. Both the crops and trees, or their products, can be harvested. Trees or shrubs are spaced to provide high light levels to the crops between them. This system suits crops that require full sun to mature and become marketable. An alley cropping example might consist of rows of trees for wood or other tree products (eg. nuts or fruit), grown in conjunction with horticultural crops (e.g. vegetables) or field crops.
Forest farming is an agroforestry system broadly defined as the integrated management of both timber and understory crops; it focuses on managing a stand to benefit both the trees and the understory (plants growing under the tree canopy). It is the practice of intentionally managing site resources (e.g. light levels), and growth stages of the tree and understory plants for production, environmental and social values.
Integrated Riparian Management
Integrated riparian management is an agroforestry system broadly defined as the integrated management of areas adjacent to aquatic zones to enhance or protect habitat and selectively provide for other resources and values.