The ORCA Centres and Topics

ORCA Centres

The eleven ORCA Centres will cover 22 topics related to organic agriculture.

 

Agroforestry

Agroforestry defines land-use systems and practices that integrate woody perennials with other crops and/or animals. The integration of agroforestry in organic production is uncommon, creating a significant opportunity for research to assist farmers in this underdeveloped strategy. Although use of alley cropping and mixed perennial cropping is increasing in the organic sector, farmers are anxious to understand more about the use of trees, hedges and shrubs as a way to improve soil physical properties, maintain soil organic matter, protect crops and livestock from flying insects and other predators, and promote nutrient-cycling. In areas where land-use practices have led to serious degradation, farmers are seeking to make better use of trees in their efforts to reclaim land.

Of particular interest is the need to develop the use of and best practices for agroforestry alongside organic agriculture as a strategy to sequester carbon and to complement the existing suite of mitigation approaches for global climate change. This is highly relevant to sustainable development as agroforestry can also be used to improve livelihoods through intercropping and crop diversification as well as potentially enable access to other income generating avenues such as carbon markets.

Few research institutions are currently engaged in organic agroforestry research. However, nonorganic institutions and organizations are engaged in work that will be vital to developing research capacity in organic agroforestry.

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