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.
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.
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Available resources from this tour:
- 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
- Highbush Cranberries (University of Maine)
- About Sour Cherry
- Growing Sour Cherry Trees (USDA)
- Peach Production (Penn State Extension)
- North Carolina Production Guide for Smaller Orchard Plantings (North Carolina State Extension)
- About Paw Paw
- Identification of Butternut (Purdue Extension)
- Where Apples Come From
- Mowing with a Scythe (Penn State Extension)
- Scythe Workshop: How to Mow with a Scythe
- Comfrey: Its History, Uses and Benefits
- Organic Mulching Materials for Weed Management
- Weeds are an indicator of a soil’s health (Michigan State University Extension)
- Soil erosion: An agricultural production challenge (Iowa State University Extension and Outreach)
- Northeastern growers are coming around to the idea of irrigating
- Effective Deer Fences (University of Vermont)
- Voles (Cornell University)
- White-Tailed Deer Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection)
- Shot hole, or Coryneum blight (UC IPM)
- Marssoninia blotch
- Insecticidal Soaps for Garden Pest Control (Clemson Cooperative Extension)
- NestWatch: Birdhouses (Cornell University)
- Constructing Wooden Boxes for Cavity-Nesting Birds (U.S. Forest Service)
- Nest Box Plans
- 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
- Climate Change Disproportionately Increases Herbivore over Plant or Parasitoid Biomass
- An Emerging Understanding of Mechanisms Governing Insect Herbivory Under Elevated CO2
- Environmental links between forestry and food security: Windbreaks, soil erosion and food crop yields