How Agroforestry Benefits the Planet

Posted On 06 May 2024
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By Jane Marsh

Reforestation efforts are quintessential for increasing carbon sequestration and rewilding habitats.

However, planting trees on agricultural lands may prove to be more valuable, even more than regenerative agriculture. Agroforestry is an old technique amplified by modern interest and reinvigorated research. What are these explorations revealing about agroforestry’s potential to help Earth recover?

Carbon Sequestration and Climate Change Mitigation

Agroforestry does more than sequester carbon — it redistributes most of it back into the land to help. It can potentially mitigate between 2.3 and 9.6 gigatons of carbon dioxide per year by 2050. The trees combat greenhouse gas emissions and decarbonize agriculture, which has a growing contribution to worldwide carbon pollution annually.

Techniques like silvopasture, which is common in agroforestry, maximize carbon capture potential. If implemented smartly and at maximum capacity, it may be 82% more effective than regenerative agriculture.

The extra fruit from the trees support the grazing animals as they help shade and protect the crops. Climate change is making it harder for plants to thrive, therefore fixtures like riparian buffer strips and windbreaks shield crops from extreme temperatures and weather. They produce natural fertilizers, eliminating the need for synthetic options and further lowering pollutant potential. 

Biodiversity Conservation and Habitat Restoration

Engaging with conservation and restoration efforts requires interactive agroforestry, a mutually beneficial style of farming. Adding trees to an environment already supportive of diverse flora brings in more pollinators and helpful native species. They drive away invasive pests while securing growth potential. Smart agroforestry ensures only native trees are incorporated. Over 29% of Midwest pastures have invasive species, so clearing these regions before instituting an agroforestry initiative is essential. 

The lines of trees provide a home for animals and insects previously displaced, bringing them safely back to an area where they are biologically strongest and most helpful. It may even protect endangered species. The Jama-Caoque Reserve in Ecuador is a cloud forest ecosystem on the brink of destruction, but an agroforestry-inspired corridor is regenerating it with ferns and howler monkeys thriving once again.

Agroecosystems promote lush farming setups instead of corporate megafarms’ clinical, monoculture styles. The heightened nutrients from native plant life revitalize the region despite agricultural efforts sapping the land’s resources.

Soil Health and Nutrient Cycling

Integrated agroforestry considers an entire agricultural system and how its natural cycles feed each other. These setups improve soil composition by boosting nutrient density and fertility. Additionally, the trees keep the soil in place. The deeper root systems are more effective at withstanding climate pressures and opening up more pathways for water to permeate. 

The trees’ grips make farms more resistant to erosion from high winds and heavy rains. The trees and crops become more self-sufficient, eliminating how many inputs workforces need to make to maintain plant health. Farmers may transition to less-invasive tilling and fertilization methods with the farm’s boosted nitrogen and microbial content. 

Economic Benefits and Food Security

Intensive agroforestry is another field technique that prioritizes productivity. Maintaining business security in agriculture during climate change requires any resilience techniques possible, and agroforestry could boost income enough to combat market fluctuations. 

Strategies like alley farming and contour ridging allow farmers to increase yield and diversify what they grow in the newly refurbished soil. The trees alone provide more sales verticals as produce farmers breach into forest farming. Farmers will eventually be able to also sell:

  • Timber
  • Herbs
  • Maple syrup
  • Firewood
  • Pine straw

Organizations will increase profits by expanding their offerings and what they can grow. Increased output designs a more stable operation for budding farmers while eliminating food insecurity — from planting trees in and around the fields. 

Exploring financial opportunities in biomass energy has even more potential to help the planet. It is a sustainable form of green power, which could save up to 25% on heating and cooling costs for farm buildings and also fuel for machines. Sustainable wood harvesting also eliminates reliance on fossil fuels, reducing the carbon footprint.

Trees as a Staple in Agriculture

Farms and policymakers must collaborate to fund and normalize tree planting on farms worldwide. Their potential for restoring native species and replenishing soil health is essential for mitigating climate change and securing food stores amid extreme weather. Agriculturalists need this stability in a volatile climate, and pairing this alongside other climate assistance strategies provides a comprehensive solution for repairing the planet.


Jane Marsh
Editor-in-Chief at


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