Nutrient Cycling in Agroforestry Systems

2155 Words9 Pages
Nutrient cycling in Agroforestry As the worlds population continues to grow, Farmers are having to respond to an ever increasing demand for food. The response to increased demand has been to grow more crops on less land. This has commonly been accomplished by farming our existing land the same way but with a more intensive use of fertilizer. This additional fertilizer is needed to replenish what nutrients previous crops have depleted from the soil. The problem with farming the land so vigorously is that it is impossible recover one hundred percent of organic soil capital each year. This problem is becoming apparent to monoculture farmers as the health of their soil declines. Each consecutive year of intensive monoculture farming calls for more chemical fertilizer input to make up for lost nutrients in the soil. When land becomes a limited resource we strive to find the best way to produce more crops on less land. This has been accomplished through the use of GMO's and machinery but owes much of its success to chemical fertilizer inputs. Fortunately, as more people and farmers become aware of the long term impacts that this system of farming can have on the soil, they are looking for new ways to farm that sustain soil health over time. Agroforestry can be seen as an important innovation to work towards this goal. The incorporation of trees into agricultural systems have been discussed for their many benefits. Of these is the benefit of retaining organic soil nutrient capital over time. Organic soil capital includes nutrients, minerals, and sources of carbon that are components of good soil health. With current monoculture methods of farming, these beneficial ingredients are depleted from the soil each year. When the recovery of the organic soil capital cannot keep up with depletion, chemical intervention is required to keep production high. Plants in
Open Document