Wisconsin NRCS & Savanna Institute Partner To Create Agroforestry Demonstrations

The Savanna Institute and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced plans to develop a statewide agroforestry demonstration farm network in Wisconsin. This demonstration will allow farmers to see examples of how to integrate trees successfully on farms for conservation and also for profit. The agreement with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will invest $1.4 million into agroforestry demonstration and educational opportunities across Wisconsin. This is in an effort to increase the number of landowners planting trees and also other perennials on agricultural land.

“Agroforestry is a good option for farmers. It would benefit the agricultural productivity and environmental health of Wisconsin,” said Eric Allness, NRCS Assistant State Conservationist for Partnerships. “Agroforestry is a cornerstone of sustainable land use which can provide new as well as diverse revenue sources for farmers.”

Some agroforestry practices, such as trees planted in windbreaks along field edges or in buffers along riverbanks, are already common in Wisconsin. Harder to find are demonstrations of alley cropping and silvopasture. If adopted, these two agroforestry practices could boost Wisconsin’s agricultural productivity. It would also improve soil health, water quality, and wildlife habitat throughout the state.

“The most frequent request we hear from farmers is the need to see agroforestry on a working farm in their geography and community,” said Kaitie Adams, who develops agroforestry demonstration farm networks for the Savanna Institute. “We also hear the need for region-specific research and producer networks that growers can tap into. Our partnership with WI NRCS will address these key needs shared by Wisconsin farmers, land managers, and stewards.”

Financing the cost of trees remains a significant barrier to adopting agroforestry. To address this, the Savanna Institute and WI NRCS provide Wisconsin farmers one-on-one technical assistance to plan, design, and fund the cost of trees.

For Wisconsin residents and landowners interested in becoming an agroforestry demonstration farm, email kaitie@savannainstitute.org to connect.