An inventor in Oregon is developing a new, selfpropelled tree pruning machine that, if successful, could make pruning trees more economical for woodland owners. While pruning of commercial species like Douglas fir in fully-stocked stands is starting to catch on, it is of particular importance in silvopastoral and alley cropping regimes where trees are initially planted at wide spacing. Timely pruning increases the volume of knot-free clearwood and improves the market price that agroforest owners can realize at harvest.
Temperate agroforestry is concerned with both protection of the natural resource base and income production. An emerging technology, it is neither totally agriculture nor forestry, but a union of the two. This provides a challenge, since part of the requirement for agroforestry to be established as a sustainable farming practice will be effective teamwork among experts from disciplines that have been traditionally compartmentalized by their own science, such as forestry, horticulture, and agriculture. There is a need for a cadre of resource professionals specifically trained to bridge the gap between the new technologies and their eventual users. Interagency and inter-organizational cooperation is necessary.
Since the mid-1980's, large plantations of hybrid poplar have become a common sight in the Pacific Northwest. A combination of favorable climate and soils, short rotation intensive culture (SRIC) and advanced breeding techniques have made these highly productive “fiber farms” an important source of hardwood fiber for paper manufacturing. The experience gained from large-scale plantations will also aid nonindustrial private growers wanting to grow poplars for higher-value wood products.
Silvoarable agroforestry, or alley cropping, with hybrid poplar may be viable alternative use for crop land in northern Europe idled due to surplus food production. Current trials in England suggest that alley cropping with poplar could become as profitable as annual crop monocultures if government farm support programs may be modified to include agroforestry.