FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, MARCH 22, 2022
HAWAII TEAM ANNOUNCES AGROFORESTRYX, A SIMPLIFIED ONLINE TOOL FOR THE DESIGN OF REGENERATIVE AGROFORESTRY SYSTEMS TO COMBAT FOOD INSECURITY AND SOIL DEGENERATION
Holualoa, HAWAII — Regenerative Agroforestry Systems (RAS) announces the release of AgroforestryX (agroforestryx.com), a user-friendly agroforestry design tool that aids in the planning of diverse regenerative agroforestry systems that support soil regeneration and food security. Currently, 12% of earth's land surface is covered in tropical forests which provide 50% of terrestrial biodiversity, and store 46% of the world's living terrestrial carbon pool. Much of these forests are under threat of deforestation and/or degradation for future agricultural use. Regenerative agroforestry is a solution to reverse tropical deforestation by fundamentally shifting the way we do agriculture and reforestation. Due to their multi-layered diversity, regenerative agroforestry systems lead to greater productivity, resilience to weather extremes, and soil building. After two years of beta testing by experts and novices around the globe, the AgroforestryX design tool utilizes locally-proven species and promotes client-designed agro-ecosystems that leave behind forest as a by-product of agriculture. It is currently in use by NRCS conservation planners in the Pacific region.
A major obstacle to adopting regenerative agroforestry systems is visualization. “By providing the user with 2D and 3D simulations of the designs over time, this planning tool streamlines the process of designing agroforests with multiple species and canopy layers—an otherwise daunting task for growers,” states AgroforestryX co-developer Craig Elevitch. This tool will be free through 2024 and has the capacity to support higher standards for conservation agroforestry projects throughout the global tropics.
The roots of AgroforestryX lie in the indigenous agricultural systems of the Pacific islands and global tropics that have been used for thousands of years to sustain many prosperous cultures. “Multistory agroforestry plantings continually change as they grow, so it takes time to learn how they work. We spent over three years distilling centuries of knowledge into a form that is easy to understand,” said co-developer Neil Logan. AgroforestryX can assist anyone looking to develop a regenerative agroforest in a simple, guided planning process and can be used in habitat restoration, conservation, and agroforestry. In other words, "the software helps users to see the forest through the trees,” added research analyst, Sophia Bowart.
AgroforestryX is a four-step design tool. First, it provides a range of planting patterns suitable for multistory agroforestry. The user then selects species from a list of more than 200 fruit, nut, timber, native, and culturally significant plants from throughout the tropics, with additional species highlighted from the Pacific islands. Because pruning is especially important when growing multiple crops together harmoniously, the user then specifies if and how much their selected plants will be pruned. Finally, the AgroforestryX tool provides visualizations and animations of the projected growth of the user’s agroforest, as well as a summary report in pdf and spreadsheet formats. A key attribute of the tool is the standards it was designed to help the user achieve. With the click of a button the tool contextualizes the user environment to guide the project towards a design that will meet regenerative standards outlined in: Sustainability 2018, 10, 3337 https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/10/9/3337
AgroforestryX.com was co-developed in cooperation with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) under a Conservation Innovation Grant, by Craig Elevitch PhD, Neil Logan and Sophia Bowart of Regenerative Agroforestry Systems, LLC (agroforestry.com), or RAS.
RAS is a consulting group dedicated to identifying and overcoming obstacles associated with the broad scale adoption of regenerative agroforestry systems to promote food security, sequester carbon, and regenerate soil. Specializing in canopy stratification management over time, RAS comprises a team of experienced agroforestry practitioners, educators and researchers committed to streamlining the adoption of regenerative systems across bioregions, providing clients with comprehensive analysis, planning and system design that lead to successful installation and management of regenerative agroforests. Craig Elevitch, PhD, Senior Team Lead and Executive Officer, has published 14 books on Agroforestry in the past 30 years and led over 200 workshops in the Pacific Region. Neil Logan, Lead Developer and Innovation Officer, has over 20 years of experience designing, managing and teaching about regenerative agroforestry systems. He specializes in the integration of information technology with dynamic living systems. Sophia Bowart, MBA, Lead Research Analyst and Operations Officer, has over 14 years of experience in simplifying financial analyses of regenerative agroforestry systems and value added products.
Bowart, S. J. and N. Logan. 2020. Economic Analysis for Multistory Agroforestry. Chapter 7 in: Elevitch, C.R.(ed.). Agroforestry Design for Regenerative Production - With Emphasis on Pacific Islands. Permanent Agriculture Resources (PAR), Hokualoa, Hawai’i. design.agroforestry.org
Elevitch, C.R. and N. Logan. 2019. Workbook for Agroforestry Design for Regenerative Production: With emphasis on Pacific Islands. Permanent Agriculture Resources (PAR) ISBN 13: 9781939618115.
Elevitch, C.R.; Mazaroli, D.N.; Ragone, D. Agroforestry Standards for Regenerative Agriculture. Sustainability 2018, 10, 3337. https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093337
Figures: The Agroforestry Design Tool™ assists users in customizing and visualizing planting patterns and species selection for their future multistory agroforest.