Forest Farming - MultiLayered Production Systems


Forest Farming is a set of agroforestry practices that use managed multi-layered forest stands to simultaneously produce both tree and non-timber products. Common practices include hardwood trees to produce lumber, sap, nuts, or fruit, while lower layers produce medicinal botanicals, berries, floral greenery, or mushrooms. Depending on the intensity of cultivation, systems vary from wild simulated, where understory crops grow much as they would exist in nature, to farming intensive where conventional agronomic techniques are used. Forest farming offers the potential to maximize income from forest stands through increased management input. This makes it an attractive option for small non-industrial foresters and woodlot owners. Since many of the non-timber products are sold into small, quality conscious markets, marketing skills and effective product quality control are important contributors to successful forest farming.

Managed Interactions - Plant Competition


Competition is the process by which individuals divide up a limited source of resources. Competition among plants most often focuses on light, water, and soil nutrients. Competition only occurs for resources that are in short supply and that different individuals are attempting to use from the same place at the same time. Thus, there are strong time and space aspects to competition. Mixed species stands of plants that have differing resource needs, rooting patterns, or growth seasons will experience reduced competition compared to stands of plants sharing similar habits and needs with their neighbors. The actual nature and severity of competition will vary with the resource being competed for. For instance, most available soil nutrients are in the upper layers of soil while soil moisture is stored throughout the soil profile. Thus, competition for nutrients is most pronounced neat the soil surface while competition for moisture continues on down into deeper layers. This is why even "tap rooted" trees  have extensive surface systems of fine roots......

Bioterracing with Agroforestry 


The combination of trees and ground vegetation present in agroforestry systems can be very useful in protecting soil from water erosion. Contour planting trees on steep slopes helps to stabilize the slope against landslides. When grass or other stiff vegetation is planted within the tree rows, a barrier is created that slows water moving down slope and deposits sediment within the barrier zone. Over time, the sediment builds up at the barrier, creating a natural vegetation-stabilized terrace without the labor or maintenance required to establish and maintain an artificial terrace. Fuel wood, fruits, grass hay, and other products may be harvested from the barrier strip, while reduced soil erosion and better water retention in the terraced field area increases crop yields. This approach, sometimes called “Sloping Agricultural Land Technology”, is a conservation practice that more than pays its way....

Dehesa... Oak Trees, Livestock and Crops Together


...Dehesa is a form of agroforestry  practiced in the  Mediterranean climate region of Europe and North Africa, where oak trees are underlain by rain-fed pasture used for livestock (cattle, sheep, hogs) production. Cereal crops (oats, wheat, barley, lentils) may be grown for a couple of years followed by 5-30 years of  pasture to help replenish soil fertility removed by the crop. The term "Dehesa" comes from the ancient traditional form of the system practiced in Spain and Portugal for well over 500 years. However, the concept is very versatile and Dehesa-like systems are present to some extent in many Mediterranean basin countries including France, Greece, and Morocco. Oak woodland  in other Mediterranean climate areas, such as California, Western Oregon,  and Western Washington are also obvious candidates for Dehesa systems. In fact, the native peoples of these areas traditionally practiced periodic burning to favor open oak woodlands similar to a Dehesa landscape  to favor wild plants, game animals, and acorn production for their use.

About DoctorRange

Dr. Sharrow's pictureDr. Sharrow is Professor of Rangeland Ecology and Management at Oregon State University, USA, where he has taught undergraduate and graduate level natural resources classes for the past 31 years.

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