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Midwest Group Helps Agroforestry Efforts Take Root
Posted March 28, 2013
A group of researchers, agency representatives, educators, farmers, and nonprofit consultants from five Midwest states met recently in Ames, IA to discuss the opportunities related to agroforestry. All are part of the three-year-old Mid-American Agroforestry Working Group, also known as MAAWG. The theme of the March 19-20, 2013, meeting was "From Seedling to Sapling: Advancing Agroforestry into Working Landscapes."
"I think we're only beginning to tap into the many opportunities related to agroforestry, especially among women landowners, beginning farmers, people on acreages, and farmers with pockets of land less suitable for row crops," said Jeri Neal, who coordinates MAAWG's efforts through the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. The Leopold Center hosted the March meeting with support from the USDA National Agroforestry Center.
MAAWG member Tom Wahl owns Red Fern Farm in southeast Iowa and agreed that agroforestry information is needed, especially among landowners. "We need to be more aggressive in helping landowners see that they have options to produce a wide variety of woody crops that can compete with the financial returns from commodities like corn and soybeans," he said.
Currently, MAAWG efforts are focused in Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. For more information about agroforestry in the Mid-American region, visit the Mid-American Agroforestry Working Group (MAAWG) website.
Nontimber Forest Products Article
Posted February 8, 2013
A new article in the January 2013 issue of the Journal Forestry, Opportunities for Enhancing Nontimber Forest Products Management in the United States (PDF, 96 KB), looks at the opportunities and barriers to the management of nontimber forest products, NTFPs, in the U.S. Results from a synthesis of literature related to harvesters and forest managers indicate that many NTFPs have considerable markets but most are inadequately monitored, economically underregulated, and ecologically poorly understood.
FAO Media Centre: New policies needed to promote agroforestry
Posted February 5, 2013
The FAO, Food and Agriculture Organization, released the publication of the Agroforestry Guidelines entitled "Advancing Agroforestry on the Policy Agenda. A guide for decision-makers" (PDF, 1.7 MB). The USDA Agroforestry Strategic Framework is highlighted on page 30 of the guide. Read the full press release…
Food and Forests: Cultivating Resilient Landscapes, January 24 – 26, 2013
Posted January 23, 2013
This year the conference is available as a free online broadcast so participants can view the event in real-time and add their thoughts and questions. The online broadcast will be available on January 24-26, 2013, at the Yale University LiveStream. You can also learn what people are saying about the conference on Twitter by following the hashtag #istf2013. For a detailed schedule of the keynote and panels, visit the conference website.
Video on Upper Midwest Hazelnut Development Initiative
Posted January 15, 2013
A new video from the Upper Midwest Hazelnut Development Initiative is available on YouTube. This 17 minute video provides an excellent overview of the work being done by this collaboration of growers and researchers working to develop a sustainable hazelnut industry in the Upper Midwest. This Initiative is also co-sponsoring the Upper Midwest Hazelnut Growers meeting March 1-2, 2013, in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
- See the Upper Midwest Hazelnut Development Initiative video…
- See the Upper Midwest Hazelnut Growers meeting brochure (PDF, 236 KB)…
Online Agroforestry and Climate Change Webinar Series
Posted January 10, 2013
The Forestry and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations welcomes those interested in agroforestry and climate change to participate in four online webinars organized by FAO in collaboration with key agroforestry partners including the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Centre (CATIE), World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), and the Community of Practice for Climate Change Mitigation in Agriculture. The event will take place during 3 weeks between February and beginning of the March 2013. To participate in the webinars you must sign up for the Community of Practice for Climate Change and Agriculture.
- See the webinar announcement that includes a link for signing up to the Community of Practice (PDF, 390 KB).
- Online Learning Event Programme (PDF, 538 KB) - dates and information for the four online webinars, occurring from February 5 to 26, 2013.
Agroforestry Academy SARE Proposal Recognized
Posted January 10, 2013
At the University of Missouri, Michael Gold's $72,484 Professional Development Program grant project is a joint effort among five Midwestern states. It will create an Agroforestry Academy for professional development of natural resource professionals, extension agents, and other educators, to advance adoption of agroforestry as a cornerstone of productive land use in the Midwest. Gold’s project has been named as the 2012 Paula Ford Professional Development Program Proposal of the Year.
The giving tree: Agroforests can heal food systems and fight climate change
Posted December 12, 2012
Annuals — i.e. corn, soybeans, and many other vegetables that have to be planted and harvested every year — are labor-intensive and come with steep environmental costs such as erosion, soil degradation, and nutrient runoff. Permaculturists like Mark Shepard see planting fruit and nut trees and other perennials — which only need to be planted once, and then, once mature, continue to produce year after year — as a key to sustainable food systems. His 106-acre farm in southwestern Wisconsin is filled with hazelnuts, chestnuts, pine nuts, currants, berries, apples, and much more. Read more about Mark's efforts…
Buffers for Biomass Production: A Review
Posted November 15, 2012
The European paper, Buffers for biomass production in temperate European agriculture: A review and synthesis on function, ecosystem services and implementation (PDF, 1.4 MB), reviews the biophysical knowledge on buffer functioning and associated ecosystem services. It describes how a three-zone buffer design, with arable fields buffered in combination by grassland, short rotation forestry (SRF) or coppice (SRC) and undisturbed vegetation along water courses, can be incorporated into farming landscapes as productive conservation elements and reflects on the potential for successful implementation. The National Agroforestry Center publication, Conservation Buffers: Design Guidelines for Buffers, Corridors, and Greenways provides the next step by providing specific guidance for designing these features to accomplish multiple objectives including biomass production.
New Non-Timber Forest Products Publications
Posted September 13, 2012
The Virginia Cooperative Extension and the US Forest Service Southern Research Station have teamed up to create two new Fact Sheets. These two publications are a result of a demonstration partnership supported by the USDA National Agroforestry Center. They have practical information on native plants and how to include them as an income producing component in conservation practices.
- Trozzo, K.E., J.F. Munsell, and J.L. Chamberlain. 2012. Native Fruit and Nut Trees of Virginia’s Mountains and Piedmont. Virginia Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet. ANR-23NP. 5p.
- Trozzo, K.E., J.F. Munsell, and J.L. Chamberlain. 2012. Woody Florals for Income and Conservation. Virginia Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet. ANR-22NP. 3p.
Have you seen the new eXtension Forest Farming website?
Posted September 13, 2012
The new Forest Farming eXtension web site is still being developed. But you are invited to ask questions of the experts. Your questions will not only be answered, but they will help build the Frequently Asked Questions section of the website.
Forest Farming Webinar now online
On May 16, James Chamberlain of the USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, presented a webinar on "Forest Farming Non-Timber Products: Opportunities & Challenges." If you missed the presentation, please go here for more information and directions on how to view and listen to this webinar. You also may read the CompassLive story on Dr. Chamberlain's webinar…
U.S.-Canada partnership to promote agroforestry
On April 17, 2012, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a cooperative partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Canada's Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food that will promote agroforestry to help landowners improve water quality, control soil erosion and boost their agriculture production. Read the whole story…
Forest Farming featured in Washington Post Lifestyles section
The Washington Post Lifestyle Section features an Associated Press story on the agroforestry practice of Forest Farming, which, the story says, “can be an attractive option for property owners who want to earn more from their land without cutting timber.”
N.Y. lawmakers vote to promote silvopasturing
To give farmers a greater incentive to convert forested acreage into silvopasture, the New York State Senate recently voted to amend the state’s agricultural assessment program to include silvopasturing. Read more about silvopasturing…
Journal of Forestry features Agroforestry lead article by NAC scientists Mike Dosskey, Gary Bentrup and Michele Schoeneberger
A Role for Agroforestry in Forest Restoration in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley (PDF, 2.2 MB) is the cover story in the Journal of Forestry’s January/February 2012 issue. The article explores agroforestry options and their potential to provide both profits for farmers and restore important functions and values of bottomland hardwood forests in a region where about two-thirds of the original forest has been cleared and converted to agriculture. More details available at the Journal of Forestry.
Green Infrastructure assistance from EPA
EPA is now accepting letters of interest from communities interested in receiving direct assistance for projects that facilitate the use of green infrastructure to protect water quality. The total EPA assistance available through this RLI is approximately $950,000, and will be distributed among 10-20 projects. The value of the assistance available to each project will be approximately $50,000 - $100,000. Letters of interest must be received by April 6, 2012. For more information, please see the Request for Letters of Interest (PDF, 5 pp, 77K).
The North American Agroforestry Conference (NAAC)
The 13th biennial NAAC will be held in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada on June 19-21, 2013. The venue for the NAAC will be the University of PEI, which features excellent meeting rooms, comfortable and affordable accommodations and easy access to the city.
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map online
The 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location.
Changes in climate may impact walnut trees
The online magazine ScienceDaily is reporting that a study by a Purdue University research team found that “the warmer, drier summers and extreme weather events considered possible as the climate changes would be especially troublesome — possibly fatal — for walnut trees.”
The magazine reported that "(O)ver five years, Douglass Jacobs, a professor of forestry and natural resources, and Martin-Michel Gauthier, a former doctoral student under Jacobs who is now a research scientist in the Ministry of Natural Resources in Quebec, studied the physiology of walnut trees, which are economically significant in Indiana for their lumber and veneer, and in other areas for their nuts. They found that the trees are especially sensitive to particular climates." See the study abstract and preview at: Annals of Forest Science.
A Quiet Push to Grow Crops Under Cover of Trees
HELENA, Mont. — On a forested hill in the mountains north of Montana’s capital, beneath a canopy of pine and spruce, Marc and Gloria Flora have planted more than 300 smaller trees, from apple and pear to black walnut and chestnut.
Beneath the trees are layers of crops: shrubs like buffalo berries and raspberries, edible flowers like day lilies, vines like grapes and hops, and medicinal plants, including yarrow and arnica.
Turkeys and chickens wander the two-acre plot, gobbling hackberries and bird cherries that have fallen from trees planted in their pen, and leaving manure to nourish the plants.
For the Floras, the garden is more than a source of food for personal use and sale. Ms. Flora, an environmental consultant and former supervisor for the United States Forest Service, is hoping it serves as a demonstration project to spur the growth of agroforestry — the science of incorporating trees into traditional agriculture.
The extensive tree canopy and the use of native plants, she says, make the garden more resilient in the face of a changing climate, needing less water, no chemical fertilizers and few, if any, pesticides. “It’s far more sustainable” than conventional agriculture, she said.
The idea is to harness the ecological services that trees provide. “Agroforestry is not converting farms to forest,” said Andy Mason, director of the Forest Service’s National Agroforestry Center. “It’s the right tree in the right place for the right reason.&rdquo
The Department of Agriculture, the Forest Service’s parent agency, began an initiative this year to encourage agroforestry.
Forests: A potential solution in fight against hunger
More attention to forest foods ans services can improve food security in poor nations. The role of forests in providing timber and other wood products must not overshadow their important contribution to feeding many of the world's poorest communities, a group of international forest organizations and secretariats said today.
According to the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), of which FAO is an active member, forests can play an even greater role in feeding the world and helping farmers cope with climate change, but their potential to do so is not being fully realized.
With nearly one billion people in the world suffering from chronic hunger, the CPF said the potential of forests and trees to improve food and nutritional security needs more attention from national and regional policymakers and international development agencies. Read more on the FAO website…
Michele Schoeneberger, NAC researcher, is a contributing author of a new report on climate change from the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, CAST.
The report, Carbon Sequestration and Greenhouse Gas Fluxes in Agriculture: Challenges and Opportunities, gives detailed scientific explanations, and examines the causes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, how they might be managed and what the environmental, economic, and policymaking consequences might be. While heated debates about climate change often seem to cloud the issue, science-based research provides clarity and the most credible foundation for decision makers. The full text of Task Force Report 142 is available in hard copy ($50.00, plus shipping) and electronically ($10.00 download fee) through the CAST website.
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