U.S. Department of Agriculture: Forest Service -- National Agroforestry Center



Date of this Version

June 2008


Published by USDA National Agroforestry Center (NAC), East Campus – UNL, Lincoln, NE 68583-0822. Website http://www.unl.edu/nac


Working Trees help make agricultural systems more sustainable by protecting crops and livestock, conserving natural resources, improving human environments, and providing sources of income.

Putting trees to work in conservation and production systems for farms, ranches, and nearby communities means planting the right trees, in the right places, and in the correct design to achieve desired objectives.

Agroforestry is a unique land management approach for landowners and anyone who cares about working lands and natural resources. Agroforestry practices provide opportunities to integrate productivity and profitability with environmental stewardship and result in healthy and sustainable agricultural systems that can be passed on to future generations.

Agroforestry practices include field, farmstead, and livestock windbreaks; riparian forest buffers along waterways; silvopasture systems with trees and forage growing together for livestock grazing; alley cropping annual crops with high-value trees; forest farming operations where high-value specialty crops are grown under the protection of a managed forest canopy; and a variety of special applications to help manage natural resource issues.

Within a landscape-scale management approach, agroforestry can help to reduce the zone of conflict between rural and urban land uses. Tree-based buffers serve as a zone of transition and help to “reconnect” agriculture and communities, creating a more functional and sustainable landscape.