What is Evergreen Agriculture; and can Saudi Arabia use this technology in some areas of the country?

There is an agroforestry technology derived by mimicking nature, which has been used in African countries with success. It provides a productive landscape for humans, nature and animals. This technique is termed “Evergreen Agriculture”, and keeps the soil covered, as well as produces shade, while growing food and animals in multi-tiered landscaped systems. Read a direct quote from the article below, to learn more about the exciting possibilities this system has to offer to degraded soil systems, to improve yield of crops, diversify income and production on farms, and reduce climate change. This is a sustainable system that has been around, and finally a good scientific article to report on the benefits of Evergreen Agriculture and food security. Could this be possible in Saudi Arabia? In areas where there is food production and farming on the land, it just may be.

Garrity, D. P. et al. Evergreen Agriculture: a robust approach to sustainable food security in Africa – Food Security. 2010, Food Security, vol. 2, pp: 197-214. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12571-010-0070-7#auth-Jules-Bayala

“Evergreen Agriculture is defined as the integration of trees into annual food crop systems. Depending upon which woody species are used, and how they are managed, their incorporation into crop fields and agricultural landscapes may contribute to:

  • maintaining vegetative soil cover year-round (Boffa, 1999),
  • bolstering nutrient supply through nitrogen fixation and nutrient cycling (Barnes and Fagg, 2003),
  • enhanced suppression of insect pests and weeds (Sileshi et al. 2006),
  • improved soil structure and water infiltration (Chirwa et al. 2007),
  • greater direct production of food, fodder, fuel, fiber and income from products produced by the intercropped trees (Garrity, 2004),
  • enhanced carbon storage both above-ground and below-ground (Makumba et al. 2007),
  • greater quantities of organic matter in soil surface residues (Akinnifesi et al. 2007),
  • more effective conservation of above- and below-ground biodiversity (Scherr and McNeeley, 2009).

About half of all agricultural land in the world now has greater than 10% tree cover (Zomer et al. 2009). In some regions tree cover on farmlands averages over 30%. In many countries the agroforestry area is steadily increasing.

Evergreen farming systems feature both perennial and annual species (trees and food crops). The overall indicator of their effectiveness is that of building a healthy soil and environment to enhance food crop production and increase household income, while increasing the resilience of the farm enterprise to a variety of risks. They are intended to deliver extended growing seasons, increased productivity, better water utilization efficiency, and drought resilience. The overall benefits expected of an evergreen farming system are increased food crop yields and/or overall profitability, lower costs of production, and healthier soils (Garrity, 2004).

The term Evergreen Agriculture denotes that a green cover is maintained on the land throughout the year. It is one of several types of agroforestry, in this case involving the direct and intimate intercropping of trees within annual crop fields (Arnold and Dewees 1995). Thus, it does not encompass agroforestry systems that feature trees maintained on fallow land, trees monocropped on arable land (i.e. farm forests), or combinations of perennial tree species on arable land (e.g. complex agro forests or perennial home gardens (Kumar and Nair, 2006)).”

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