Components of agroforestry systems
Cornelius, Jonathan P.
Okia, Clement Akias
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Agroforestry systems are composed of trees and crops, trees and livestock, or trees with both crops and livestock. In this section, we explore the attributes of these components in more detail. A given agroforestry system is often centred on one species, which we call the ‘flagship species’. This is the species that the farmer considers to be the most important one – often because it contributes most strongly to their livelihood. Other components, which we call ‘flotilla species’, are added to provide agroecological services, such as shade, that support the flagship species. The needs of the flagship species (for example, for light or water) determine the types of flotilla species needed, even when these also produce useful goods. For example, when growing shade-intolerant crops like cereals, farmers need to select and plant trees that do not compete with the cereals for light. In many agroforestry systems, the flagship species is an annual crop, a perennial (long-lived) crop (including tree crops), or a livestock species; it can also be a timber species. Some agroforestry systems may have more than one flagship species. Flotilla species can be trees or crops.