ArcheWild guides its clients on the pragmatic implementation of Agroforestry programs and techniques. The intentional planting of native trees and shrubs into traditional crop and animal production systems can provide substantial economic, environmental, and social benefits. From wind breaks to specialty crops to conservation agriculture.
Agroforestry is a subfield of the broader conservation agriculture movement to restore farms and other land uses to a more profitable, durable, and effective state. Specifically, agroforestry is the use of carefully selected native trees and shrubs to deliver targeted benefits, some broad and some narrow.
The value of incorporating trees and shrubs into agricultural, riparian, and woodland settings is well-established and has been actively practiced by people and cultures around the world from the beginning of civilization. Yet, the latter half of the 20th century witnessed the widespread removal of tree and shrubs from farms in North American and Europe to maximize the acreage available under the new agrochemical-based agriculture system. This article deals specifically with the use of agroforestry principles on small to medium sized farms, and on abandoned farms whose health their owners want to rehabilitate.
Agroforestry is neither new nor unique. Agroforestry is simply the planting of a specific set of trees and shrubs to deliver a specific set of benefits. Farmers are keen business people who invest capital in crops that pay dividends in 3 to 6 months. Investment in trees and shrubs have a longer payout period, but can yield substantial profits. Farmers with supplemental income or day jobs can often invest in agroforestry without assistance; others can apply for a USDA-NRCS grant and ArcheWild staff can help with the process.
Example agroforestry implementations:
- Improve livestock access to clean water by planting prickly ash along a riparian corridor
- Dramatically improve soil nitrogen by planting a cash crop of black locust boles
- Improve beef yields by planting hedgerows of silver maple
- Reduce soil erosion by planting white pine and northern white cedar
- Save on pollination service fees by planting hedgerows of meadowsweet
- More quickly fatten hogs and turkeys by planting white oak and persimmon
- Improve late season cash flow by planting paw paw
- Grow a million $ insurance policy by planting black walnut and American chestnut
- Expand yields and profits of your honey-making by planting basswood
- Add a profitable pick-your-own by using native and rare fruiting shrubs for hedgerows throughout the farm
- Create habitat for high-value botanical crops under trees planted for other purposes
- Create a long-term revenue stream by planting willows and dogwoods along a stream corridor for live stake production
- Raise profits by building an on-site tree and shrub nursery to support in-house agroforestry programs and/or for sale
ArcheWild offers three agroforestry support services: investment planning, technical design, and turnkey installation. The ArcheWild agroforestry team includes Mark as the lead ecology designer, Iveta with an MS and business planning experience, Sara with a masters in Landscape Architecture and one of Pennsylvania’s top foresters, Mike with a BA in Agronomic History and a real farmer himself, and Cameron with a BA and probably the most trusted field manager in the business. This team has all the skills, experience, and education needed to help plan and build a profitable agroforestry operation on your farm or property.