Agroforestry

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Agroforestry involves integrating trees and shrubs into agricultural systems. This practice can provide multiple benefits, including:

  • Improved Soil Health: Trees and shrubs can help to improve soil structure, increase organic matter content, and reduce erosion.
  • Increased Biodiversity: Agroforestry systems can provide habitat for beneficial insects and wildlife, promoting biodiversity and ecosystem services.
  • Additional Income Streams: Trees and shrubs can provide farmers with additional income streams through the sale of fruits, nuts, timber, and other products.

Impact on climate action

Agroforestry, within regenerative agriculture, enhances climate action by combining trees with crops or livestock, fostering biodiversity and carbon sequestration. This practice mitigates deforestation, reduces soil erosion, and enhances resilience to extreme weather events. Agroforestry systems contribute to a sustainable landscape, addressing climate change challenges while supporting food production.

Underlying
Technology

  • Agroforestry Systems: Agroforestry involves integrating trees and shrubs into agricultural systems. Different types of agroforestry systems exist, such as alley cropping, silvopasture, and forest farming. The design and management of agroforestry systems depend on factors such as the type of crops and trees being grown, soil conditions, and climate.
  • Ecological Principles: Agroforestry systems are designed to mimic natural ecosystems, creating a more diverse and resilient agricultural landscape. This can improve soil health, enhance biodiversity, and provide ecosystem services such as pollination and pest control.
  • Economic Viability: Agroforestry systems can provide farmers with additional income streams through the sale of fruits, nuts, timber, and other tree products. This can improve farm profitability and make agricultural systems more resilient.

TRL : 5-6

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Agroforestry Design and Management Software: Startups like Regen Farmer are developing software tools to help farmers design and manage agroforestry systems. These tools use data analytics and modeling to optimize system design and predict performance.
  • Carbon Credit Verification: Companies like reNature are developing methods to verify and monetize the carbon sequestration benefits of agroforestry systems. This can provide farmers with additional income streams and incentivize the adoption of agroforestry practices.
  • New Agroforestry Products and Markets: Research is ongoing to develop new agroforestry products and markets, such as specialty crops and medicinal plants that can be grown in agroforestry systems.
  • Precision Agroforestry: Precision agriculture technologies, such as sensors and data analytics, are being adapted to agroforestry systems to improve management practices and optimize resource use.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Soil Health Enhancement
  • Biodiversity Promotion
  • Agroforestry Systems Design
  • Ecological Mimicry
  • Economic Viability Strategies
  • Agroforestry Software Solutions
  • Carbon Sequestration Validation
  • Emerging Agroforestry Products
  • Precision Management Technologies
  • Regional Agroforestry Adaptations
  • Biodiversity Conservation Studies

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • Regen Farmer:
    • Technology Enhancement: Regen Farmer offers sustainable agroforestry solutions and regenerative farming practices to farmers and landowners. Their approach involves integrating trees and perennial crops into agricultural landscapes to enhance biodiversity, improve soil health, and increase resilience to climate change.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Regen Farmer’s agroforestry solutions prioritize regenerative practices that restore ecosystem health, sequester carbon, and promote sustainable land management. Their technology integrates ecological principles, permaculture design, and agroecological techniques to create productive and resilient farming systems.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Regen Farmer serves farmers, landowners, and agricultural organizations seeking to adopt regenerative farming practices and agroforestry systems. Their solutions are used in various agricultural sectors, including crop production, livestock grazing, and agroecological restoration, to enhance productivity, profitability, and environmental stewardship.
  • reNature:
    • Technology Enhancement: reNature specializes in the design, implementation, and management of regenerative agroforestry projects worldwide. Their approach involves working with farmers, investors, and communities to establish and maintain diverse and resilient agroecosystems that provide ecological, social, and economic benefits.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: reNature’s agroforestry solutions focus on creating regenerative landscapes that restore degraded land, conserve biodiversity, and enhance ecosystem services. Their technology combines scientific expertise, community engagement, and sustainable business models to catalyze positive change in agriculture and land use.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: reNature serves a wide range of stakeholders involved in agriculture, forestry, and land management, including smallholder farmers, large-scale landowners, and corporate partners. Their agroforestry projects address diverse challenges, including soil degradation, deforestation, and climate resilience, to create long-term value for people and the planet.
  • Propagate Ventures:
    • Technology Enhancement: Propagate Ventures offers agroforestry investment and implementation services to landowners, investors, and agricultural enterprises. Their approach involves identifying and developing profitable agroforestry projects that generate financial returns while delivering environmental and social benefits.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Propagate Ventures’ agroforestry solutions focus on creating viable business models that integrate tree crops, perennial crops, and ecosystem services into agricultural systems. Their technology leverages financial expertise, ecological insights, and market opportunities to drive sustainable land use and economic development.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Propagate Ventures serves investors, landowners, and agricultural businesses seeking to invest in or implement agroforestry projects. Their solutions appeal to stakeholders interested in diversifying income streams, enhancing land value, and contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation through sustainable land management practices.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • University of Missouri:
    • Research Focus: The University of Missouri conducts research on Agroforestry, which involves integrating trees and shrubs into agricultural landscapes to enhance ecosystem services, improve soil health, and increase farm productivity.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves studying the interactions between trees, crops, and livestock in agroforestry systems, exploring agroecological principles and management practices for sustainable land use and natural resource management.
    • End-use Applications: Their work has applications in sustainable agriculture, biodiversity conservation, and climate change mitigation. For example, they’re researching alley cropping systems where rows of trees are planted alongside crops to provide shade, windbreaks, and nutrient cycling benefits, as well as integrating livestock grazing in silvopastoral systems to improve soil fertility and animal welfare.
  • International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA):
    • Research Focus: IITA is a leading research organization in tropical agriculture, conducting research on Agroforestry in sub-Saharan Africa to address food security, poverty alleviation, and environmental sustainability challenges.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves developing and promoting agroforestry practices tailored to the needs and conditions of smallholder farmers in tropical regions, emphasizing the integration of multipurpose trees, cover crops, and livestock to enhance farm resilience and livelihoods.
    • End-use Applications: Their work has applications in sustainable land management, climate adaptation, and rural development. For instance, they’re researching agroforestry systems that combine fruit trees with staple crops to diversify income sources and improve nutrition, as well as promoting agroforestry-based conservation agriculture practices to reduce soil erosion and enhance carbon sequestration.
  • Wageningen University & Research:
    • Research Focus: Wageningen University & Research is a global leader in agricultural research, including Agroforestry, focusing on sustainable land use, ecosystem services, and rural development.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves interdisciplinary collaborations between agronomy, forestry, and environmental science disciplines to explore the ecological, economic, and social benefits of agroforestry systems in diverse agroecosystems.
    • End-use Applications: Their work has applications in agroecology, climate-smart agriculture, and landscape restoration. For example, they’re researching agroforestry practices for climate adaptation and mitigation, such as shade-grown coffee systems that enhance biodiversity and reduce deforestation, as well as promoting farmer-led agroforestry innovations for sustainable land management and rural livelihoods.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Commercially, agroforestry practices are promoted through educational programs, government incentives, and partnerships with conservation organizations. Farmers benefit from increased yields, carbon sequestration, and diversified income streams from timber, fruits, and nuts. Agroforestry contributes to regenerative agriculture by restoring degraded land, mitigating climate change, and promoting sustainable land management practices.