Agroforestry is a productive system whose function is to integrate trees, livestock, pastures and foliage, in the same productive unit, either as a special arrangement or in a temporal sequence. This system tends to improve productivity while achieving ecologically sustainable. This system combines the technology of forestry and agriculture that allows a more diverse, integrated, productive and sustainable land use. The Iberian dehesas (montados) in Portuguese) are a thousand-year-old example of this type of exploitation.
Importance of Agroforestry
The importance of agroforestry lies in the environmental and socio-economic benefits for rural communities, which translates into improved soil conservation, timber production and agricultural products on the same surface.
One of the main features is the simplicity of the models, for small producers and also in large areas. In the system all the elements benefit each other in perfect harmony. For example, the shade of the tree protects the fruits against the negative effects of the solar rays, very common in the case of the pineapple and the melon. In addition, trees with deep roots recover the leached mineral nutrients and deposited them in deep horizons, to make it available to plants, through the loss and decomposition of leaves and other plant organs on the soil surface.
Benefits of Agroforestry
- Better use of the land with annual crops, medium term (palmito or citrus), and long term (wood).
- The fertility of the soil is better preserved.
- The association of agricultural and forestry species makes it more resistant to attacks of pests and diseases To preserve the ground the following techniques can be developed:
- Reposition of organic matter. Reposition that can be natural, when the soil is allowed to rest and is expected to grow again vegetation. But it is also possible to do it artificially, enriching it using compost, Another possibility is to use green fertilizers,
- Establishment of cover. It can be mucuna, calopogoneo, kutzu and others.
- Planting legumes. Planting such as chickpea, beans, alfalfa, clover, soybeans and acacias have in their roots nodules with bacteria that take nitrogen from the air and fix it in the soil.
- Practices that help maintain fertility. As is the case of crop rotation and crop association.
- Ensure the content of organic matter in the soil surface layers, in order to improve the retention of nutrients and water. Maintaining a system of superficial roots that contribute to conserve the structure of the soil and to absorb the nutriment that is in the superficial layer.
How to apply Agroforestry in Spain
The agroforestry is not currently being applied in Spain in an extended way, for several reasons:
- Ignorance of the technique or its importance.
- Producers find comfort in working in free or tree-free areas that hinder their agricultural work.
- Lack of awareness of the importance of maintaining soil with permanent cover.
- Resistance to adopting new techniques.
The effectiveness of agroforestry techniques is proven, with great potential as a model for sustainable use. We are currently in a world where groundwater level is declining which is a problem for farmers. In drip irrigation too much water is used, although traditionally it has been sold as efficient but it really isn’t. One of the possible solutions to this problem and to adopt agroforestry in the cropping system is the Growboxx. It is ideal for planting under this concept because inside it can be planted a productive tree in the center and 4 trees of foliage, plants or vegetables.
The Growboxx is made of biodegradable paperboard, making it possible to plant the tree directly on the ground, which causes the roots to grow up to 2 meters deep, taking advantage of this underground water. The drought is a friend of poverty, where there is drought, people have little money, so the Growboxx has a lower price, to be able to bring the product to these people with few resources so that they can take advantage of its benefits.