The main agroforestry types are: Silvopasture (Wood-pasture) - mixing trees and pasture/forage, Silvoarable (Wood/field crop, intercropping or alley cropping) - mixing trees and arable or horticultural crops, Forest Farming - cultivating high-value products within forested areas, Forest Gardening - imitating complex forest ecosystems to produce many products.
Monoculture, with coffee plants growing in direct sunlight, is the other extreme. No tree cover at all requires high inputs of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, use of machinery, and an intensive workforce year round. It also produces the highest yield of coffee per acre, though the soil in most plantations requires that the fields often sit fallow. Shade-grown coffee plantations can continue to produce year after year.
Up to 40 species of trees can be found on traditionally managed shade coffee plantations; these trees protect the coffee plants that grow beneath them from rain and sun, help maintain soil quality, reduce the need for weeding, and aid in pest control. Organic matter from the shade trees reduces erosion and provides natural mulch, contributing nutrients to the soil and reducing the need for chemical fertilizers.
Improvement of biodiversity, especially by the abundance of "edge effects". This in particular, permits a synergistic improvement, by favoring the habitat of game. The integrated protection of crops by their association with trees, chosen to stimulate the hyperparasite (parasites of parasites) population of crops, is a promising way forwards.
Improvement to the development of natural resources: the total wood and arable production from an agroforestry plot is greater than the separate production obtained by an arable-forest separate cropping pattern on the same area of land. This effect results from the stimulation of complementarity between trees and crops on agroforestry plots. Thus, weeds, which are spontaneously present in young forestry plantations are replaced by harvested crops or pasture; maintenance is less costly and environmental resources are better used.
Windbreaks are an effective carbon-capturing option. Only occupying about 2 to 5% of the land, windbreaks also help protect crops and livestock, as well as reduce wind erosion. They provide a means to increase production while reducing greenhouse gases.
Agroforestry has different types of advantages but at the same time it also has some disadvantages. This system is very difficult to manage and need more accuracy. They yield small amount of cultivated crops as compared to other.
shade coffee trees provide extensive habitat oftentimes in regions wracked by forest destruction and other landscape transformations harmful to natural ecosystems and their functioning. The forest-like conditions of these systems allow for a wealth of ecological dynamics to occur including increased bird habitat, soil protection/erosion control, carbon sequestration, natural pest control, and improved pollination, making such systems vital for conservation initiatives.
There are many ways in which agroforestry practices may enhance biological productivity. Soil fertility may be enhanced by planting nitrogen-fixing woody species between rows of crop plants. The foliage of many woody species may also be harvested to provide "green manure" for crop plants which provides nutrients, but also helps prevent soil erosion and water loss, and may help deter pests. Woody species also may be planted to provide shade for crop plants, to prevent soil erosion, or to act as windbreaks. All of these practices however may be summarized by saying that the addition of woody species to an agroecosystem has the potential to change both the physical structure of the ecosystem as well as the flow and retention of nutrients in the ecosystem.
Agroforestry is the deliberate incorporation of trees and other woody species of plants into other types of agricultural activities. By definition the use of woody species must result in the enhancement of either the biological productivity or the economic return of the system, or both.