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close this bookEnvironmentally Sound Technologies for Women in Agriculture (IIRR, 1996, 213 p.)
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View the documentMultipurpose trees and shrubs

Multipurpose trees and shrubs

Selection criteria

Select tree species and varieties that have these features:

- Adaptability to local climatic conditions
- Multiple uses high demand and value of the produce
- Fast growth, short time to harvest
- Vigorous regrowth after cutting
- Nitrogen-fixing ability
- Ability to improve soil
- Compatible with ground vegetation
- Easy management

Fuel and fodder collection is hard, time-consuming work for farm women. Multipurpose trees, grown on the farm in an organized manner, can significantly improve farm incomes by providing food, fodder, fuelwood, timber, gum, and building and fence poles, while reducing drudgery for farm women.

Trees consume carbon dioxide and release vital oxygen, maintain cool weather, increase rainfall, and protect soil from erosion and loss of productivity.

Trees on farm land

Suitable multipurpose trees can be incorporated on farm lands for a variety of uses.

Mainly protective
Windbreaks and shelter belts

In places where wind erosion is severe, like arid and desert areas, wind breaks and shelter belts of trees, such as Israeli babul, can reduce erosion.

Live hedges

Species, like vilayati babul and brij babul, can be grown as hedges around fields. They can serve as animal barriers, reduce soil erosion, and provide fodder, timber, and fuelwood.

Trees have many uses.

Soil conservation

Species, like desi babul, ardu, and shisham, are reported to be good soil binders and help conserve soil.

Mainly productive

Boundary planting

Many tree species, such as eucalyptus, can be grown around farm boundaries for additional returns without adversely affecting crop yields. Care must be taken in site selection to avoid crop shading. Tree roots should be pruned by digging a trench along the crop boundary.

Agri-silvipasture, agri-horticulture

Forest trees, like shisham, anjan, subabul, and fruit trees, like aonla, guava, mulberry, and ber, can be introduced at suitable spacings in agricultural systems to stabilize the farm system and provide additional returns.

Silvipasture, hortipasture

As above, many of the same forest and fruit trees can be introduced in pastures and grasslands.

Home gardens

In humid regions, a mixture of many trees and shrubs in a multitier system can be profitable and ecologically sustainable.

Alley cropping

Hedges of subabul and gliricidia can be grown 8-10 m apart. Crops can be planted between the hedges. The hedges should be pruned regularly and the prunings used as mulch or fodder.

Multipurpose woodlots

Multipurpose trees, like babul, desi siris, shisham, eucalyptus, sesbania, subabul, ber, casuarina, neem, and kathal, can be planted on community bunds for fuelwood, charcoal, timber, poles, medicine, gum, pulp, and fodder.

Contributors: Dr. Punjab Singh and Dr. R S. Chillar