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Overstory #190 - Silvopasture: An Agroforestry Practice


Although some form of silvopasture management has been practiced for centuries, silvopasture as an agroforestry practice is specifically designed and managed for the production of trees, tree products, forage, and livestock. Silvopasture results when forage crops are deliberately introduced or enhanced in a timber production system, or timber crops are deliberately introduced or enhanced in a forage production system. As a silvopasture, timber and pasture are managed as a single integrated system.


Silvopastoral systems are designed to produce a high-value timber component, while providing short-term cash flow from the livestock component. The interactions among timber, forage, and livestock are managed intensively to simultaneously produce timber commodities, a high quality forage resource, and efficient livestock production. Overall, silvopastures can provide economic returns while creating a sustainable system with many environmental benefits. Well-managed silvopastures offer a diversified marketing opportunity that can stimulate rural economic development.

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Overstory #191 - Edible Leaves

The place of green leaves in the diet

Green leaves are not equally appreciated in all parts of the tropics and thus play a varied role in the diets of distinct peoples. East and West Africans make frequent use of green vegetables. In parts of Latin America, green leaves are considered food for animals, although local or weedy species may be added to the cooking pot in times of food shortage or in remote regions. In the temperate zone, lettuce is an essential item in salads and is eaten uncooked. Crucifers of many kinds are also well known and used worldwide. The place of green vegetables in the diet is largely a matter of culture, training, and habit.

The role of green leaves in the diet may also be considered by noting how the green food is used. Probably the most common use in all parts of the world is as a boiled vegetable. By boiling, potential pathogens are thus eliminated, sometimes poisonous or irritating substances are neutralized, and spoilage is brought to a halt. Nevertheless, this technique reduces the leaf to a limp and soggy mass, which may not always be appetizing. Some nutrients may be destroyed by heating while others may be leached out. As a general rule, cooking should be as brief as possible. Some leaves may contain mucilaginous substances, which are often, but not always, appreciated. Frying leaves in oil or enveloped in batter preserves some of their unique characteristics and maintains their texture.

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Overstory #189 - Agroforester's Library

Thank you for visiting The Overstory journal.

This page is merely a placeholder in the journal's numbered sequence for a previously published edition, informing subscribers of updated reference links and changes in the Agroforester's Library.

Please visit the Agroforester's Library consisting of recommended books, periodicals, species references and other links one may find useful in the agroforestry field. 

Overstory #188 - Helping forests to help themselves – Accelerated natural regeneration

What is accelerated natural regeneration (ANR)?

Accelerated natural regeneration (ANR) covers any set of activities that enhance the natural processes of forest regeneration. These include promoting the natural establishment and subsequent growth of indigenous forest trees, whilst preventing any factors that might harm them e.g. competition from weeds, browsing by cattle, fire, etc.

Because ANR relies on existing natural processes, it requires less labour input than tree planting and is therefore a very cheap way to restore forest ecosystems. However, ANR and tree planting should not be regarded as two exclusive alternatives to forest restoration. More often than not, forest restoration depends on the clever combination of tree planting with ANR techniques. Under certain circumstances, ANR may be sufficient alone to restore forest ecosystems, but tree planting should always be implemented in combination with whatever ANR techniques may be appropriate.

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Overstory #187 - Enhancing nest sites for native bee crop pollinators


The European honey bee receives most of the credit for crop pollination, but the number of managed honey bee hives is half of what it was in the US in the 1950s; and this number continues to decline primarily because of honey bee pests and diseases. Native bees, however, contribute significantly to crop pollination and, on farms with sufficient natural habitat located nearby, may even provide all of the required pollination for some crops. In order to support the native bee community, it is essential to provide nesting sites in addition to floral resources. Unfortunately, intensively managed farm landscapes often lack the untilled ground, tree snags, plants, and small cavities that native bees require for nest construction. Agroforestry practices can provide essential nesting habitat for bees, our most important crop pollinators.

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Overstory #186 - Introduction to tropical homegardens: time-tested agroforestry

The concept of homegarden

It is rather customary that any writing on homegardens starts with a "definition" of the term. There is no universally accepted "definition" of the term. An examination of the various "definitions" used or suggested by various authors shows that they all revolve around the basic concept that has been around for at least the past 20 years, i.e., since the "early literature" on the subject (Wiersum, 1982; Brownrigg, 1985; Fernandes and Nair, 1986; Soemarwoto, 1987) homegardens represent intimate, multistory combinations of various trees and crops, sometimes in association with domestic animals, around the homestead. This concept has been developed around the rural settings and subsistence economy under which most homegardens exist(ed). The practice of homegardening is now being extended to urban settings (Drescher et al., 2006; Thaman et al., 2006) as well as with a commercial orientation (Abdoellah et al., 2006; Yamada and Osaqui, 2006).

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