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INTRODUCTION TO AGROFORESTRY…

It is an agricultural system used for centuries by local farmers in many regions of the world, especially in the tropics. The main element is trees, which are based on tree-crop, tree-crop-native animal associations in agricultural land, and success is achieved through the balance of interactions between these elements. Therefore, it is a method that should be developed with experience and observation in addition to knowledge.

The tree-crop Association in agricultural land is evaluated in terms of the contributions of the tree to the soil and the crop. From another perspective, this kind of togetherness in the field brings about competition. However, proper design of the tree and crop pattern and physiologically the ability of the trees to use plant nutrients and water from the lower layers of the soil provides the balance of this competition.

Thus, it is necessary to evaluate the individual characteristics of plants in a long-term and comprehensive manner when establishing the system. 

Basically in the land of the trees:

1. To support organic structure by binding C to soil
2. To contribute to the formation of humus with leaf and bark etc.
3. To provide sustainability and rehabilitation of soil by supporting the accumulation of organic matter
4. Tree roots support water attitude in soil
5. Supporting water accumulation in aquifers through tree roots and biodiversity in the land
6. Strong winds, hail and flooding in uncertain conditions of climate change prevent trees from damaging the crop
7. Decrease of disease and pest formation in the product due to biodiversity in the land, easy transition to organic production, decrease of chemical input usage
8. Contributing to ecosystem balance and biosphere well-being in long-term production
9. At least 2 different times in the year from the tree and the product to gain revenue from the farmer

In Agroforestry systems, tree varieties called “multi-purpose trees” are selected specifically for the purpose of having such functions. These trees are mostly legume trees, which are used from fruits, wool, timber,new shoot and tree bark such as mulberry, poplar, oak, acacia and neem. These trees, whose fruit, leaves and bark are used as food, feed, medicine, cosmetics, cleaning agents, etc., are also used in the production of building materials, fuels and furniture.

The conditions, ranges and layouts of trees and crops against each other in agricultural land are designed in thousands of different ways according to climate, slope, prevailing winds, soil structure, characteristics of crops and land use conditions in various regions of the world. With this feature, the system applied in the mountain villages of Venezuela and the system observed in the African Sahara and its outputs can be very different. Its sustainability, contribution to the soil and the income and earnings from different periods of crop diversity in the land have ensured that the system is also an acceptable rural development tool throughout the world.

“Food forests”  against the emerging threats related to food production in the world in the land from the surface of the soil to the top crown of the tree is intended to obtain food from every layer of complicated systems installation as an agroforestry system is also popular. The systems established by the combination of vegetables+fruit+grape+scrub trees and high trees in home gardens, orchards or vineyards are the guarantee of food security in underdeveloped countries.

Agroforestry, an agricultural system which also reveals the need for local farmers ‘ knowledge on regional agriculture, has also been a special research topic in universities since the 1990s. The contribution of the system to the accumulation of C has come to the fore in recent years in scientific research where the effects of different product associations up to 5-30 years on design and efficiency and quality have been examined. In 2014, TUBITAK was accepted as the new Department of Horticulture.

Agroforestry, the only agricultural system considered sustainable, which can be resilient and resistant to the effects of change in all official texts on climate change and in the Kyoto Protocol, is Surah Kahf 32-34 in the Qur’an. It is depicted and recommended in verses. Production systems compared to monoculture system, we see that have completely opposite characteristics, a vast wasteland of monocultures, the only product range, high chemical input use and yield income against the return on agricultural land and high biodiversity, low-input agro-ecosystem sustainability, soil and water high quality, healthy food production, food safety, steady income for investors with low scattered into the year, but not very attractive. 

But it is being put forward and discussed as a new alternative for world producers , who now have to consider a different agricultural system against changing climatic conditions, carbon rising in the atmosphere and a deteriorating ecosystem. Today, complex systems established in China and Russia for the purpose of high income in large areas are considered sufficient in terms of product quality and efficiency.

In our country, which is subject to a rapid loss of the presence of trees and forests, the issue should be raised starting from the agroforestry production systems implemented by local farmers for centuries for recycling, preventing erosion, increasing crop diversity, ensuring food safety and sustainability.

Agricultural technical knowledge accumulated in the memory of the local farmers in these lands that have been Agricultural for thousands of years must be blended with the climate and soil conditions in the local climate change conditions and the knowledge of modern agriculture and agricultural production that is “unique to us” must be revealed.

Author: Berrak Birgili

Agricultural Engineer, M.Sc.

Authors

About İsmail Uğural

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