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


Date of this Version

June 2005


Schoeneberger, M.M., 2005. Agroforestry – Working Trees for Sequestering Carbon on Ag-Lands. In: Brooks, K.N. and Ffolliot, P.F. (eds) Moving Agroforestry in the Mainstream. Proc. 9th N. Am. Agroforest. Conf., Rochester, MN. 12-15 June 2005 [CD-ROM]. Dept. Forest Resources, Univ. Minnesota, St. Paul, MN, 13 p.


Agroforestry is an appealing option for sequestering carbon on agricultural lands because it can sequester significant amounts of carbon while leaving the bulk of the land in agricultural production. Simultaneously, it can help landowners and society address many other issues, such as economic diversification, biodiversity, and water quality, facing these lands. Nonetheless, agroforestry remains under-recognized as a greenhouse gas mitigation option for agriculture in the US. Reasons for this include the limited information base and tools agroforestry can currently offer compared to the decade’s worth of investment in agriculture and forestry, and to agroforestry’s cross-cutting nature that puts it at the interface of agriculture and forestry; not strongly owned or promoted by either discipline. Agroforestry research is beginning to establish the scientific foundation required for building carbon accounting and modeling tools but more progress is needed before it is readily accepted within agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation programs and, further, incorporated into the broader scope of sustainable agricultural management. Agroforestry needs to become part of the agricultural toolbox and not viewed as something separate from it. Government policies and programs driving research direction (and investment) are being formulated with or without data in order to meet pressing needs. Enhanced communication of agroforestry’s carbon cobenefit, as well as the other benefits afforded by these plantings, will help elevate agroforestry awareness within these discussions. This will be especially crucial in this interim period as deliberations on such broad sweeping natural resource programs as the 2007 Farm Bill begin.