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Temperate Agroforestry Systems

A.M. GORDON and S.M. NEWMAN, Editors
CAB INTERNATIONAL, Wallingford, Oxon OX10 8DE, U.K.; 1997, 270 p, paperback, $50.00, ISBN 0 85199 147 5.
zones may surprise those familiar only with tropical agroforestry. There is certainly a strong emphasis on silvopastoralism,
which means that temperate agroforesters are perhaps more
likely to have expertise in animal nutrition than their tropical
counterparts, though a key to developing effective management strategies for such systems remains control of the partitioning of resources between the trees and understory. Use of
trees for the management of snow cover and protection of
livestock from extreme cold is a feature of agroforestry that is
unique to the temperate zone, but the North American system
of alleycropping with black walnut (Juglans nigra L.) is a
classic of agroforestry system design that utilizes fundamental
principles of agroforestry that are applicable anywhere. The
Australian system of using water consumption by trees to
minimize groundwater recharge under arable land may at first
sight appear counterintuitive to agroforesters used to working
in semiarid regions where excessive water use by trees is often
a constraint on the development of agroforestry; it is, however,
an excellent example of how trees can be used to enhance the
sustainability of agriculture, as it provides a solution to the
very serious problem in Australia of soil salinization by rising
groundwater. The contribution from China highlights the
markedly different set of problems, resulting from high population densities, faced by land-use planners there and shows
how integrating trees into agriculture, using the four sides
system, where trees are planted along roadsides and the
boundaries between small, intensively farmed plots, has enabled production of both food and wood to expand with the
A particularly fascinating feature of each of the contributions to the book is a short survey of the history of agroforestry
in each region. There are many reminders that use of trees on
farms goes back to the beginnings of agriculture. The observations of tree--crop interactions from the Yung Dynasty in China
reported in the book confirm that agroforestry is an ancient
Discussion of the implications of plant ecophysiology for
tree--crop interactions and microclimate modification by trees
is limited and likely to be seen as superficial by specialists in
these areas. This is not a serious omission, however, because
these issues are amply covered in other recent texts, but there
is a surprising lack of information----at least beyond qualitative----on the economics of agroforestry. Farming in temperate
zones is very often a highly commercialized enterprise and,
consequently, the arguments presented in favor of agroforestry
would have added conviction if they were supported by clearer
financial and economic analyses.
The information contained in the book is well documented,
making it something of a bibliographic goldmine for researchers in temperate agroforestry. There are, however, in-


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The large body of research into tropical agroforestry systems

that has accumulated over recent decades may leave some with
the impression that agroforestry is an insignificant practice in
temperate zones. Readers of this book will, however, be left
with no doubt that there is a community of both researchers
and practitioners who are enthusiastic about the potential of
agroforestry to provide solutions for some of the major challenges facing natural resource management in the temperate
regions of the world.
Gordon and Newman have brought together contributions
from scattered regions of the globe, with chapters reviewing
research and development in agroforestry in North America,
Argentina, Europe, China, Australia and New Zealand. Thus,
the organization of the book has a geographical focus, which
has prevented it from becoming another exercise in the listing
and categorization of different systems of agroforestry.
Rather, readers are able to appreciate the great variety of
temperate agroforestry systems in use around the world,
while understanding the diverse agronomic and economic
considerations that have shaped their development on different continents. There are inevitably features common to
agroforestry across the temperate regions, but the editors
have assembled the book with care and there is minimal
repetition among chapters. Effective synthesis of the issues
raised by the various authors is provided in introductory and
concluding chapters, which together with consistent editing
of the text, serve to unify the contributions into a cohesive
The book focuses on the role of trees in farming systems,
rather than the physical or physiological mechanisms controlling interactions between trees and crops, or criteria for the
selection of species or combinations of species. While reviewing research in agroforestry and discussing the merits of the
most prevalent systems used in the different geographical
regions, each of the contributors has provided an analysis of
how trees can be used to enhance the sustainability of temperate agriculture and improve biodiversity in modern farming,
while maintaining or increasing profitability for farmers. The
book has a firmly academic perspective, but these features
mean that it should also be appreciated by farmers with an
interest in diversifying the management of their farms and by
governmental policy makers in areas such as agriculture, forestry, rural economics and resource conservation. There are
some strong words for politicians intent on reducing public
funding of conservation and resource management programs
in the countryside, particularly in North America, and they
would benefit from awareness of the compelling arguments in
favor of promoting more diversified systems of land use that
are presented in this book.
The rich variety of agroforestry systems used in temperate


stances where the reader is left wondering how to obtain

further details on aspects of the text. A glaring example of this
is the un-referenced contention that roots of Paulownia elongata are found mostly below the rooting zone of crops; however, this is more of a reflection on the poor quality of
information available on belowground interactions in agroforestry than the editorial standards of the book.
The book would benefit from the use of more photographs
to illustrate the various systems of agroforestry discussed,
although there are impressive pictures of the use of agroforestry in riparian strips to rehabilitate stream courses in agricultural fields. The choice of the photograph for the front cover,
which shows sheep grazing in a silvopastoral scene, is especially unfortunate, however, because the trees in the picture

have been relegated to a minor detail of the background.

Overall, Gordon and Newman have produced an excellent
book that I recommend to all those with an interest in agroforestry. In time, the book is likely to be seen as an important
synthesis of research in temperate agroforestry and it may,
therefore, galvanize research efforts to become more cohesive
across continents. Research into common areas of interest
could then be coordinated internationally, promoting assessment of the transferability of systems between continents and
coordination of policy development and lobbying for institutional support of temperate agroforestry.
Dr. Mark Smith, Institute of Hydrology, Crowmarsh Gifford,
Wallingford, Oxfordshire OX10 8BB, United Kingdom.

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