Agroforestry with N2-fixing trees: Sustainable development's friend or foe?

Legume tree-based farming systems sit at a crucial nexus of agroecological sustainability. Their capacity to support microbial N2 fixation can increase soil nitrogen (N) availability and therefore improve soil fertility, crop yields, and support long-term stewardship of natural resources. However, increasing N availability oftentimes catalyzes the release of N into the surrounding environment, in particular nitrous oxide (N2O) — a potent greenhouse gas. We summarize current knowledge on the agroecological footprint of legume-based agroforestry and provide a first appraisal of whether the technology represents a pathway toward sustainable development or an environmental hazard.
Journal article

Published on

2014-02-15

Author(s)

  • Rosenstock, Todd S.
  • Tully, K.L.
  • Arias-Navarro, Cristina
  • Neufeldt, Henry
  • Butterbach-Bahl, Klaus
  • Verchot, Louis V.

Citation

Rosenstock, T.S., Tully, K.L., Arias-Navarro, C., Neufeldt, H., Butterbach-Bahl, K. and Verchot, L.V. 2014. Agroforestry with N2-fixing trees: Sustainable development's friend or foe? Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 6: 15-21.