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close this bookAmaranth to Zai Holes, Ideas for Growing Food under Difficult Conditions (ECHO; 1996; 397 pages)
View the documentOther ECHO publications
View the documentAbout this book
View the documentAcknowledgements
Open this folder and view contents1: Basics of agricultural development
Open this folder and view contents2: Vegetables and small fruits in the tropics
Open this folder and view contents3: Staple crops
Open this folder and view contents4: Multipurpose trees
Open this folder and view contents5: Farming systems and gardening techniques
Open this folder and view contents6: Soil health and plant nutrition
Open this folder and view contents7: Water resources
Open this folder and view contents8: Plant protection and pest control
Open this folder and view contents9: Domestic animals
Open this folder and view contents10: Food science
Open this folder and view contents11: Human health care
Open this folder and view contents12: Seeds and germplasm
Open this folder and view contents13: Energy and technologies
Open this folder and view contents14: From farm to market
Open this folder and view contents15: Training and missionary resources
Open this folder and view contents16: Oils
Open this folder and view contents17: Above-ground (urban) gardens
View the document18: What is ECHO?
View the documentAdditional ECHO publications
Open this folder and view contentsECHO development notes - issue 52
Open this folder and view contentsECHO development notes: issue 53
Open this folder and view contents28 additional technical notes about tropical agriculture
close this folderPrinciples of agroforestry
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentWhat is agroforestry?
View the documentWhy agroforestry?
View the documentSummary of benefits of agroforestry (see definitions)
View the documentLand
View the documentThe trees
View the documentNon-tree crops
View the documentGetting started with agroforestry systems
View the documentSource abbreviations
View the documentDefinitions
View the documentBibliography and useful publications
View the documentRelated echo publications
View the documentRelated resources and organizations
Open this folder and view contentsGood nutrition on the small farm

The trees

In agroforestry, particular attention is placed on multiple purpose trees or perennial shrubs. The most important of these trees are the legumes because of their ability to fix nitrogen and thus make it available to other plants. The roles of trees on the small farm may include the following:

Sources of fruits, nuts, edible leaves, and other foods.

Sources of construction material, posts, lumber, branches for use as wattle (a fabrication of poles interwoven with slender branches etc.), thatching.

Sources of non-edible materials, including sap, resins, tannins, insecticides, and medicinal compounds.

Sources of fuel.
Soil conservation, especially on hillsides.
Improvement of soil fertility.

In order to plan for the use of these trees in agroforestry systems considerable knowledge of their properties is necessary. Desirable information includes the uses described above, the climatic adaptations of the species, including adaptations to various soils and stresses, the size and form of the canopy as well as the root system, and the suitability for various agroforestry practices. Some of the most common uses of trees in agroforestry systems are:

Individual trees in home gardens, around houses, paths, and public places.

Dispersed trees in cropland and pastures.
Lines of trees with crops between (alley cropping).
Strips of vegetation along contours or water ways.
Living fences and borderlines, boundaries.
Improved fallows.
Terraces on hills.
Small earthworks.
Erosion control on hillsides, gullies, channels.
Woodlots for the production of fuel and timber.

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