Getting started with agroforestry systems
Decide whether agroforestry systems are appropriate.
Describe family and community needs.
Find the limiting constraints in agriculture, including markets and marketing.
List the potential benefits of an agroforestry system in the region in question, and their relative importance. Then decide if it is worth the effort to develop one.
Consider whether the people of the region are willing or capable of adopting a system.
Select the area.
Characterize it (describe it, its strengths, weaknesses) with respect to existing soil, water, and crops.
List the needs that could be met with an agroforestry system.
Characterize the crops desired by minimum space requirements, water and fertilizer needs, and shade tolerance.
Select the trees, shrubs, or grasses to be used.
If the system is temporary:
Plan the features of soil erosion control, earthworks, and gully maintenance first.
Plan spacing of fruit trees according to final spacing requirements.
Plan a succession of annual or short-lived perennials beginning with the most shade tolerant for the final years of intercropping.
If the system is permanent:
Plan the proportion of the permanent fruit and lumber trees on the basis of relative importance to the farmer.
Plan the spacing of long-term trees on the basis of final space requirements times 0.5.
Plan succession of annual and perennial understory crops, including crops for soil protection and enrichment.
As large permanent trees grow, adjust planting plan to place shade tolerant crops in most shady areas.
In temporary and permanent systems:
Keep all ground in crops or protective covers at all times.
Try the system on a small scale first.
Measure the inputs and outputs of the system.
Evaluate whether the benefits expected have been achieved.
Look for the desired plant materials or for suitable substitutes locally (Table 5).
Expand or extend any new system cautiously.
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