As the climate changes, regions that were once too cold for some tree species to grow are now becoming suitable habitat.
At the same time, other regions are becoming too warm for certain cold-hardy species to thrive. Many orchards and farms in the Northeast are coping with changing weather patterns, increased pest and weed pressures, and unpredictable market conditions. Diversifying the site by planting more than one species of tree or crop can increase the farm’s resilience to change. In a well-designed system, crops will complement one another and lead to greater yields and financial security.
Yale-Myers Forest Orchard is a demonstration site for small-scale agroforestry practices.
Methods used are intended to address the growing concerns farmers have about climate change. The orchard was designed and installed by graduate students from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Situated within a 7,840-acre mixed hardwood forest, the project dovetails with Yale's Quiet Corner Initiative. The Forest Orchard is primarily managed by graduate students. Plantings consist of 160 specimens, including 25 different species of fruit and nut trees. Because of its scale, history, and institutional context, this agroforestry project has multiple goals. The four main objectives of the orchard are education, demonstration, research, and ecological stewardship.
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Tree crops can be a good alternative to annual crops in dry years.
Annual crops have shallow roots that can deplete the water supply in topsoil. In contrast, tree roots penetrate deep into the soil, accessing water beyond the reach of annuals. In a drought year, deep roots, as well as improved infiltration and water storage, make trees more resilient to water limitations. As a result, trees can be a more reliable crop under conditions that would severely constrain yields of annual crops. Furthermore, tree roots increase soil porosity and reduce runoff, and canopy shade decreases soil evaporation. Planting trees as crops can create agricultural landscapes that overall are more resilient to drought conditions than traditional crops.
Available Resources from Yale-Myers Forest Orchard
Hub Video Interviews
- Yale's Quiet Corner Initiative
- Planting and Managing a Forest Orchard
- Agroforestry Benefits through Crop Diversity
- Exploring Polyculture Options for Orchards
- Challenges with a Polycultural Orchard System
- Drip Irrigation Considerations
- Evaluating Climate Impacts on Orchards
- Pest Management within a Forest Orchard
- Agroforestry Weed Suppression Tactics
Articles & Publications
- Agroecology and the design of climate change-resilient farming systems
- Improving water resilience with more perennially based agriculture
- Agroforestry—The Next Step in Sustainable and Resilient Agriculture
- Organic Mulching Materials for Weed Management
- Soil erosion: An agricultural production challenge
- Environmental links between forestry and food security: Windbreaks, soil erosion and food crop yields
- Climate Change Disproportionately Increases Herbivore over Plant or Parasitoid Biomass
- An Emerging Understanding of Mechanisms Governing Insect Herbivory Under Elevated CO2
- Weeds are an indicator of a soil’s health
- Where Apples Come From
Resources & Guides
- Highbush Cranberries (University of Maine)
- Effective Deer Fences (University of Vermont)
- Growing Sour Cherry Trees (USDA)
- Climate Zone Map (NOAA)
- Peach Production (Penn State Extension)
- North Carolina Production Guide for Smaller Orchard Plantings (NC State Extension)
- Mobile Tool Applications List (Cornell)
- NestWatch: Birdhouses (Cornell)
- Constructing Wooden Boxes for Cavity-Nesting Birds (U.S. Forest Service)
- Nest Box Plans
- Shot hole, or Coryneum blight (UC IPM)
- Marssoninia blotch
- Insecticidal Soaps for Garden Pest Control (Clemson Cooperative Extension)
- Voles (Cornell)
- Mowing with a Scythe (Penn State Extension)
- Comfrey: Its History, Uses and Benefits
- USDA National Agroforestry Center
- Yale's Quiet Corner Initiative
- 2014 National Climate Assessment: Forests
- 2018 National Climate Assessment: Forests
- Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station