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USDA Agroforestry resources

 
Ann Torrence
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I learned from reading "Restoration Agriculture" by Mark Shepard that the USDA actually has a program on agroforestry. One of their sub-areas is shelter belts. He recommends that you get the publications and show them to your farming neighbors and extension agents. Somehow the USDA blessing makes it more mainstream. The extension agency guys are now licensed to help you if they know there's a program, and your neighbors might actually stop laughing at you long enough to learn something. Or so Shepard suggests. Heck, they even have a link to a new Cornell/UVM pub on log-based mushroom cultivation.

Shepard mentioned this on an old thread, but I went through some of the stuff on the USDA site and found it worth drawing more attention to. Just don't tell the rest of the USDA minions that some of their colleagues have gone rogue so this resource doesn't get mucked up.

As with most .gov websites, finding stuff is something of a scavenger hunt. If you find a treasure at the USDA site, could you add a comment with a direct link?
 
Adrien Lapointe
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The university of Missouri also has an excellent document on agroforestry practices and some videos.

The document can be found here

And here are videos on each of the practices:









 
Adrien Lapointe
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Here is another set of videos on the practices from the university of Wisconsin Extension. They all feature Mark Shepard and one of them explains Mark's approach to keyline design.











 
Zach Weiss
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Great information! Thanks for sharing.

The USDA also has a very cool National Clonal Germplasm Repository program with 3 sites in the USA. This has got to be some of the most important work that the USDA has done to support food security. Each repository is a large ag station that houses an incredible diversity of fruit cultivars for propagation. This government funded program supplies scion wood to anyone who orders it. This is by far the best thing I have ever heard of my tax money going to support. I wish we could increase their funding by at-least an order of magnitude.

I was blessed with the opportunity to visit the Cornell Ag station in Geneva, NY (one of the 3 USDA Repository sites) and got a tour from the manager. While it was by no means permaculture it is still one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. 30 acres of different cultivars of apples, literally just one of each cultivar for 30 acres. While it is managed as an orchard (lawns, irrigation, etc etc) it was so beautiful to see the clearly visible genetic diversity on the site. It was fall, some trees were already in dormancy, some still had apples, and some still had apples and leaves. Each tree was unique, even though they were all pruned and managed the same way.

That's all a long winded route to say that I think every permie with some room for grafting/propagation should buy some appropriate root stock and start filling their order from the appropriate repository every year. Each repository is for a different climate and houses different species. A brief synopses below.

USDA Repository Geneva, New York | Apples, Tart Cherries, and Cold-Hardy Grapes

USDA Repository Corvallis, Oregon | Pears, Small Fruits, and Unusual Fruits

USDA Repository Davis, California | Stone Fruit, Grapes, Nuts, and Unusual Fruits
 
nathan luedtke
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Oh my stars I love Mark Shepard so much. Thanks for sharing these videos, I can't wait to watch!
 
Maura Will
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About Adrien's agroforestry vid. Thanks, nice summary. I would suggest planting hardwood (nut?) trees in rows, fence with 2-ribbon hot fence. Use tree spats around seedlings when you plant them. Seed strips inside fence with a low-growing grass such as sheep fescue and the rest of the pasture with a much taller grass/legume mix. (Years later, the pasture grasses will over take the short fescue but by then the trees will not need fencing for protection from cattle.) I see no need for herbicides or mowing if you plant this way. Cattle are the easiest grazers at first in that they require the most minimal fencing and aren't hell bent on getting at your baby trees. You can use (free) heavy cardboard for tree spats, perhaps with some straw or grass clippings on top. The cardboard should last about 2-3 years -- long enough if you have planted the less aggressive short fescue in the tree strip. Growing hardwood trees in a pasture is a 2 + 2 = 5 or maybe 6 kind of proposition. So many benefits! If you are growing hardwood trees for lumber, you should keep pruning up so that the trees take on a pomp pomp look. This produces more valuable lumber with fewer knots and lets more light down to the grasses. With nut trees, a more natural shape would maximize nuts while eliminating/minimizing pruning labor. Once the trees are big enough for the fencing to come down, the cows will prune up the trees to the height they can reach anyway, producing an attractive park look.
 
Scott Stiller
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Pretty terrific videos. Thanks for posting.
 
Paul Cereghino
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Here's some info I'd collected on the topic:
https://salishsearestoration.org/wiki/Agroforestry

Agroforesty is actually a cabinet-level national initiative sanctioned by agency leadership. National staff are few, and primarily the MidWest and SE seem to be leveraging federal resources.

For subsidies, the main program to look into is EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentive Program), which can cost share site prep where you can show natural resource benefits. It is just a pain to work with the fed contracting, but if you state has something like Conservation Districts, they can often help with navigation.

This may include the standard NRCS agroforesty practices, but a farm plan could also include practices like "contour swale", "fencing", etc. No one cares if it's permaculture as long as you get you damn cow out of the stream.
 
Amedean Messan
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Thanks.
 
Tyler Miller
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Wow, those videos have me really excited! Or maybe it's that I had a bunch of candy next to my computer while I watched them.

geoff lawton did alley cropping of a sort in his recent greening the desert video: From Desert to Oasis in 4 Years!

I know people who have become interested in organic farming, but still are in the conventional agriculture mindset. Since the silvopasture and alley cropping videos look fairly tidy and still allow them to use their tractors I might be able to convince them to try it.
 
R Scott
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Some of those were VERY close to me. I am going to have to track them down and take a closer look.

THANKS for posting those.

+1 on them being a great transition for conventional ag. Run the tree line on the key line and space them based on the machinery. Farmers could still run 12+ row machinery.
 
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