Creating the knowledge infrastructure to enhance landowner adoption of agroforestry through an agroforestry academy
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Agroforestry offers a novel approach to land management that provides opportunities to combine productivity and profitability with environmental stewardship, resulting in healthy and sustainable agricultural systems that can be passed on to future generations. In spite of significant advances in both the science and practice of US agroforestry over the past 20 years, adoption has been limited. In the US, natural resource professionals and other educators are currently not equipped to help landowners adopt agroforestry. To advance adoption of agroforestry as a cornerstone of productive land use, a week-long agroforestry academy is being developed by a regional consortium of experts from Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The academy is designed to train natural resource professionals, extension agents, and other agricultural educators who work with landowners. Advanced training will be provided on the five recognized temperate zone agroforestry practices integrated with options for bioenergy, marketing, economic, social dimensions, and environmental services. The cornerstone of the academy will be an applied planning and design exercise. Academy trainees will work in small groups to gain hands on practice in agroforestry design based on the needs of a working farm. Academy trainers and graduates will form the core of the knowledge infrastructure needed to enhance landowner adoption of agroforestry, resulting in increased sustainability of rural communities and the food and agricultural system.