Overstory #75 - Glossary for Agroforestry Practices
During the past three years, The Overstory has covered a wide range of topics and many agroforestry terms have been used. This edition features an agroforestry glossary (collection of specialized terms and their meanings) complied and edited by special guest contributors Peter Huxley and Helen van Houten. Here you will find the meanings of 23 of the 1400 terms found in the full version of Glossary for Agroforestry. The glossary was originally published by the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF).
"If people defined their terms, arguments would be less than three minutes."
Selected Agroforestry Terms (agroforestry practices)
- Conversion of bare land into forest land by planting of forest trees.
- The planting of a forest crop on land that has not previously, or not recently, carried a forest crop. Related term: reforestation
An agroforestry intercropping system in which species of shrubs or trees are planted at spacings relatively close within row and wide between row, to leave room for herbaceous cropping between, that is, in the 'alleys' (syn: hedgerow intercropping).
An area around a forest, national park, or any other conserved place that provides the local community with products that they would otherwise take from the forest, or that provides an opportunity to produce alternative products.
The natural vegetation that arises when land is left uncultivated for some time. Composed of small trees, shrubs, grasses (and sedges) and herbaceous plants. Bush fallow may be grazed or browsed and firewood collected from it before it is returned to cultivation. Related terms: enriched fallow, shifting cultivation
Forestry developed in areas marginal to agriculture, with many members of the community being landless or small-scale farmers, often characterized by ecological and cultural diversity and the employment of traditional technologies. Communal land development is basic to this type of forestry. Related term: social forestry
A form of agroforestry in which useful, mainly woody species are sown or planted before cultivation ceases, or at the time it does, so that during the fallow period, or when the land is next cleared for cultivation, products are available for household use or market that would not otherwise have been there (for example, fruits, bamboos, rattans, medicinals). Related term: fallow
- Allowing crop land to lie idle, either tilled or untilled, during the whole or greater portion of a growing season. Tillage is usually practised to control weeds and encourage the storage of moisture in the soil.
- Land rested from deliberate cropping, not necessarily without cultivation or grazing but without sowing.
- State of land left without a crop or weed growth for extended period, often to accumulate moisture. Related term bush fallow
Growing trees for timber, poles, fuelwood on farmland. This may be done in small woodlots or as boundary plantings. Related term: tree gardens
A land-use form on private lands outside the village in which planted trees and sometimes additional perennial crops occur.
- A crop that is grown for soil protection, biological nitrogen reduction, or organic matter and ploughed, disked or hoed into the soil.
- Any crop grown for the purpose of being turned under while green, or soon after maturity, for soil improvement.
A land-use form on private lands surrounding individual houses with a definite fence, in which several tree species are cultivated together with annual and perennial crops; often with the inclusion of small livestock. There are many forms of such gardens varying in how intensively they are cultivated and their location with regard to the home, for example, village forest gardens, 'compound gardens', 'kitchen gardens'.
- The cultivation of two or more crops simultaneously on the same field, with or without a row arrangement (row intercropping or 'mixed intercropping').
- The growing of two or more crops on the same field with the planting of the second crop after the first one has already completed development. Also called relay cropping. Related terms: mixed cropping, multiple cropping
A way of establishing a boundary by planting a line of trees and/or shrubs (the latter usually from large stem cuttings or stumps), at relatively close spacing and by fixing wires to them. If animals are to be kept in or out, more uprights (dead sticks) can be tied to the wires. Also called a 'living fence'. Related terms: hedge, hedgerow
- A natural or artificially applied layer of plant residues or other materials such as stones, sand, paper or brush on the surface of the soil.
- A covering of plant material put on the soil to improve its fertility, moisture retention capacity and organic content.
- A loose surface horizon that forms naturally or may be produced by cultivation and consists of either inorganic or organic materials.
'Permanent agriculture'. The design and maintenance of sustainable, ecologically favourable, energy efficient agricultural and horticultural systems. The concept includes not only agroforestry but the integration of organic farming principles and intermediate technology, the use of renewable resources and recycling, the exploitation of biodiversity, conservation and habitat protection,as well as social and institutional well-being. It can be applied to urban as well as rural environments.
- A pattern of multicropping in which one crop follows another on the same land without any break (continuous cropping = conntinuous land occupancy) or with a break (intermittent cropping = intermittent land occupancy).
- Growing more than one crop on the same piece of land with each seasonal crop component being grown during a different time of the year. Related term: simultaneous cropping
An extended windbreak of living trees and shrubs established and maintained for the protection of farmlands over an area larger than a single farm.
Found mainly in the tropics, especially in humid and subhumid regions. There are different kinds; for example, where a settlement is permanent, but certain fields are fallowed and cropped alternately ('rotational agriculture'). In others, whole settlements move and clear new land once the old is no longer productive. Also called 'swidden' (Old English for a 'burnt clearing'), used more to designate the social group, or 'slash-and-burn', so-called because of the operations undergone. Related term: slash-and-burn system
Any agroforestry system that include trees or shrubs and pastures and animals. Related term: forest grazing
- A kind of shifting cultivation in high rainfall areas where the cropping period is followed by a fallow period during which grass, herb, bush or tree growth occurs.
- A pattern of agriculture in which existing vegetation is cut, stacked and burned to provide space and nutrients for cropping; also called 'swidden' cultivation and shifting cultivation.
- Growing two or more crops simultaneously in different bands wide enough to permit independent cultivation but narrow enough for the crops to interact agronomically. Related term: zonal agroforestry system
- Growing crops in a systematic arrangement of strips or bands to serve as vegetative barriers to wind and water erosion. Related terms: windstrip, barrier hedge
- The practice of growing crops in narrow bands along the contour in an attempt to reduce runoff, thereby preventing erosion or conserving moisture.
The management and conservation of the natural natural base, and the orientation of technological and institutional change, in such a manner as to ensure the attainment and continued satisfaction of human needs for present and future generations. It conserves land, water, plant and animal genetic resources, is environmentally non-degrading, technically appropriate, economically feasible and socially acceptable.
Method of raising forest trees in combination with (seasonal) agricultural crops. Used in the early stages of establishing a forest plantation. It not only provides some food but can lessen the establishment costs.
Any agroforestry practice that incorporates trees into farmland. Related term: farm forestry
A multistoreyed agroforestry system in which a mixture of several fruit and other useful trees is cultivated (that is, for a mixture of products), sometimes with the inclusion of annual crops. Related terms: homegarden, mixed garden, village forest garden
A group of trees or shrubs in any arrangement that will afford protection from high winds to animals or crops or both. When the arrangement is in a long line the group is called a shelterbelt. If an associated reason is also to harvest timber at some future date it is sometimes called a 'timberbelt'. Related term: windstrip
Growing crops without any significant cultivation of the soil, and often by leaving the previous crop residues on the soil surface as a protective mulch. Related terms: minimum tillage, stubble mulching
About the authors
Peter Huxley is former Director of Research Development at ICRAF, agroforestry expert, and author of the recently published text Tropical Agroforestry. For information about a special discount on Peter's recent book, please send a note to Book Offers.
Helen van Houten has a long experience as a Science Writer and Science Editor with, among others, IDRC and ICRAF. She is now a freelance writer living in Kenya.
The terms above are excerpted from the Glossary for Agroforestry, compiled and edited by Peter Huxley and Helen van Houten and published by the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry in 1997. The entire text of the glossary can be viewed in its entirety online at . This excerpt is reprinted with the kind permission of the publisher.