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Agroforestry integrates forestry technologies into agricultural practices. Through the incorporation of woody shrubs and trees into crop and animal production, agroforestry aims to improve production, protect soil and water resources, diversify income and contribute to sustainable land management. Some common agroforestry practices include alley cropping, windbreaks, riparian buffers and silvopasture but may also be broadened to include any practice, save forestry, that utilizes trees and woody shrubs in a managed production system.

The material presented on this page provides an introduction to different agroforestry practices and the ways in which agroforestry can be used in agriculture, communities and mix-used areas. A list of demonstration sites in Minnesota and financial/ technical assistance programs is also provided.


Photo courtesy USDA NRCS

The Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Agricultural Management (CINRAM) works closely with University of Minnesota Forest Resource Extension office on agroforestry issues. Visit CINRAM’s website for more information on their research and agroforestry work.

Please contact the Forest Resource Extension office with any agroforestry related questions. Phone: (612) 624-3020. Email: In addition, Diomy Zamora, Regional Extension Educator based in Brainerd, has expertise in agroforestry, hybrid poplar and renewable energy and is available for consultation. Email: Phone: 218-828-2332


A guide to agroforestry resources and demonstration sites: Agroforestry in Minnesota-University of Minnesota

An introduction to agroforestry practices in Minnesota:Discovering Profits in Unlikely Places: Agroforestry Opportunities for Added Income-University of Minnesota

A guide to agroforestry practices in agriculture:Working trees for agriculture-USDA, communities: Working trees for communities-USDA

December 3, 2009 at 3:02 pm Leave a comment

Northern Minnesota phenology report: December 2009

By John Latimer, KAXE Radio, Grand Rapids

This time of year we turn our attention to the critters that don’t
migrate or hibernate or if they do migrate they come here to spend the
winter in balmy northern Minnesota. For some like the robins it is a gamble
for if they do survive they have their pick of the territories in the
spring. That is a big “if” however because they can easily get trapped and
perish before they can travel far enough south to find food.
I heard of one intrepid robin that joined a flock of bohemian waxwings. The bohemian
waxwings are an example of a species that migrates to the area to spend the
winter. The robin and the waxwings survive the winter eating fruit and by
joining this flock the robin markedly increased its ability to locate food.Cardinals do not migrate. They are expanding their range ever farther north.
The note from 1988 was the first I had seen in the area. Now there are
regular sightings in the Grand Rapids area. In the spring and summer when
they are singing  they can be heard all along the Mississippi river in town.
Many people have reported seeing them at their feeders throughout the year.

If a cardinal shows up at your feeder this winter it may stay. They prefer
black oil sunflower seeds and a place to hide when they are not eating. A
few balsam or spruce near the feeder will give them the shelter they seek.
Cardinals often visit the feeder just around sunrise and again just before
sunset.  What they do the rest of the day remains a mystery.Chickadees are year around residents wherever they are found. They are
inquisitive and convivial guests at nearly all feeders. There is some
evidence that some chickadees do migrate, though not always in a north south
direction. Whatever the case there is almost always a flock near every
feeder. These flocks assemble shortly after the young birds are fledged in
mid-summer. They remain together on a territory throughout the winter. Often
you can hear them when they contact another flock as much singing will
occur. The territories tend to be 10 to 20 acres in size and are defended by
the entire flock.

In late December and early January the dominant males will begin to sing a
new song. It is a lovely two note “fee bee”. When you hear this it is a sign
that the males are starting to choose a mate and the flock will be breaking
up soon. Often two or more males within a flock will sing at the same time.
This can signal a struggle for territory.

As breeding pairs chickadees require about a ten acre territory and the males are trying to see who will
control the area. They seldom sing this fee bee song inside of ten yards of
one another. Once they have closed to that range a much quieter battle
ensues. The songs are different and may be accompanied by chases. Sometimes
the birds will appear to stop the skirmish to feed a bit. The real struggle
for territory occurs as they approach their nest building phase in April. In
the meantime watch and listen as the chickadees surround us with their
exuberant good cheer through the depths of winter.

John Latimer is well known throughout northern Minnesota for his phenology work. He appears weekly on KAXE radio in Grand Rapids, and audio and twitter archives are available here. His work is a frequent feature on MyMinnesotaWoods.  This article also appeared in the Duluth Senior Reporter.  It is printed with the author’s permission.

December 3, 2009 at 11:08 am Leave a comment

Woodland recreational trail design and maintenance

Well designed recreational trails can allow you and your family to enjoy the best of what your woodland has to offer. Extension has a new 29-page publication aimed at families with small properties who need basic knowledge and simple, inexpensive solutions to trail design problems.

Continue Reading April 28, 2007 at 8:30 pm Leave a comment

Minnesota woodlands and climate change

How will climate change affect Minnesota woods? What changes should you expect? What can you do to prepare? This page will answer some of these questions.

Projected future changes

UCS/ESA image

It’s hard enough to predict tomorrow’s weather. Predicting climate change is complex. Different climate models offer different predictions. According to a recent report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, by the end of this century Minnesota’s summer climate will resemble the current climate of Kansas, and the winter climate will be more like that of southern Wisconsin.
There’s general agreement that Minnesota’s climate will get warmer. What’s less certain is what will happen to precipitation: will it get warmer and drier or warmer and wetter?

Impacts on Minnesota forests

Minnesota lies at the juncture of four major ecological provinces, or biomes. Ecological boundaries depend heavily on temperature and rainfall patterns, and changes in temperature and rainfall are likely to have relatively major effects near the boundaries.


Warming temperatures are likely to stress trees that are adapted to cooler conditions. This stress may predispose trees to secondary insect or disease agents, making them more vulnerable. This would be exacerbated by longer and/or more frequent drought events.

Insects & disease

Gypsy month larva

Antoine Hnain img

Healthy trees can defend themselves against most native insect and disease threats. However, stressed trees are more vulnerable. As a consequence, native pests like the two-lined chestnut borer and bronze birch borer can have more damaging outbreaks when trees are stressed. Both of these insects have had recent outbreaks due in part to drought events. These outbreaks, and associated losses, are likely to become more common.

Invasive plants

Many invasive species, like buckthorn, can thrive under a wide variety of conditions. Some native tree species can only thrive under a relatively narrow range of conditions. Changing climate may displace some natives, creating growing space that will be filled by invasives.

Non-native insects

Insects like gypsy moth (right) and emerald ash borer are likely to enter Minnesota soon. Different bugs have different impacts, but overall, new insect invaders will further stress and weaken forests, compounding stress from a changing climate.

What you can do to keep your woodland healthy

Here are a few general recommendations:

  1. Maintain diversity. Manage your woods to include a variety of different species. Different species will be affected differently, and some will be more resilient than others.
  2. Maintain stand vigor. Thinning your woods is an excellent way to improve overall stand vigor. Trees with large, full crowns receive more energy from the sun and are much more resilient than crowded, spindly trees.
  3. Grow and harvest more timber! Growing forests are carbon sinks, turning atmospheric carbon into wood.
  4. Monitor your woodlands carefully. Insect and disease outbreaks may travel through stands more quickly due to tree stress. The more quickly you can identify and act to control outbreaks, the more damage you can prevent.
  5. Do your part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

April 12, 2007 at 1:49 pm Leave a comment

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