Monday, February 22, 2010

Agriculture vs. Forestry???

Traditionally this has been a complicated relationship; two formidable forces vying for the landscape, resources and, of course, our hearts and minds. Well maybe it isn’t that dramatic but there definitely is a competitive, mutually exclusive distinction out there between forestry and agriculture. Having worked in both I have heard a fair share of choice words and derisive statements that both sides have leveled against the other.

The similarities and shared interest between agriculture and forestry are obvious though; most simply that both are working lands that we cannot do without. Much of our region’s forestland is located on farms too. I wish I could say that FFB was personally going to end this rift and bring both sides together. However, many people and institutions are and have been working tirelessly to promote a sustainable landscape of both forest and farms.

Agroforesty, as the name implies, is a practice of using both agricultural and forestry technologies together to benefit the land, its productivity and the diversification of the farm operation. Agroforestry includes practices like forest farming (ie. growing or gathering non timber forest products) and silvopasturing, which is a practice that uses trees in grazed pastures to enrich soil and provide cover to livestock and create a new income stream for the farmer. For a more thorough list of practices and descriptions click here and go to the About Agroforestry heading.

Agroforestry is not new or one of these “fringe” applications, however. Along with some traditional forestry practices, for instance, agroforestry projects have been accepted practices for several USDA conservation and cost-share programs.

To read the full story go to the Forestry For the Bay News site.
(Edited from Forestry For the Bay newsletter by Craig Highfield.  February 17, 2010.)

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