Agroforestry is the practice of integrating trees or shrubs with agronomic or horticultural crops as part of a farming operation whether commercial or non-commercial. Although not yet common in Kentucky, many farmers successfully integrate healthy tree and shrub management into a diverse operation. This can include, but isn’t limited to, rotating small ruminants through tree plantations, alley cropping crops between crop trees or shrubs, and producing fruiting shrubs on marginal lands. In addition to direct economic benefits, adding large perennial plants to an area can results in other benefits such as improved soil conditions, pollinator habitat, and shade for livestock.
We conduct research to find better answers to important agroforestry questions.
- How do we integrate trees and shrubs into different types of agricultural operations?
- How do we best use trees as protective measures from wind, to reduce soil erosion, or to shade livestock in small-scale situations?
- Can we effectively diversify our operation by adding trees or shrubs as additional crops on marginal lands while also improving soil conditions and protecting water quality?
- Can we produce foods using agroforestry practices?
What are we working on right now?
- Creating downloadable resources such as:
- Agroforestry practices for small farms
- Map of Kentucky producers implementing agroforestry
- Lists of trees and shrubs for alley cropping situations
- Fruiting bearing trees and shrubs
- Trees and shrubs for honey producers
- Improving tree health in established silvopasture situations
- Planning demonstration areas for future training events and public accessibility
- Developing research proposals to better understand agroforestry practices for Kentucky