Agroforestry is a land use management system in which trees, crops and other agriculture are planted in a way that achieves maximum results. This science looks at ways that farmers and conservationists can best grow crops together, in order to maximize yields, obtain the best quality crops, and other defined results. In order to work in this field, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree.
Why Become an Agroforester
Agroforesters are interested in learning how to best grow trees and crops together. There are many benefits that agroforestry has compared to conventional agricultural production. Agroforestry systems typically have more biodiversity. With many plant species living in a close land area, this habitat supports a variety of insects, birds and other animals.
Many farmers in recent years have been interested in agroforestry as a way to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Some farmers have experienced agroforestry as useful in restoring soil fertility, creating cleaner water, and reducing deforestation.
As an agroforester, you will plan what crops will work together well in a natural environment. You will determine your goals for agricultural yields, as well as the overall ecology of the agricultural system. You will negotiate terms and conditions for agricultural management and harvesting.
You will oversee activities to ensure compliance with regulations and habitat protection. You will work with all stakeholders, including farmers, private landowners, and governments, in order to improve the land for forestry purposes and also protect the environment.
This is a good career choice for somebody who is passionate about the environment, enjoys management, and wants a position that involves thinking creatively.
Agroforesters should possess the following qualities and skills:
Passionate about environment
Agroforester Work Environment
Agroforesters work outside, helping to plan and plant trees and crops. The work is physically demanding. They must be physically fit in order to meet the requirements of this position. Tools and machinery can lead to injury on the job. Agroforesters must take care to be alert at all times. Any job that is physically demanding carries an amount of risk.
They must be prepared to work in all kinds of weather conditions. When not on the job site, agroforesters are at their office, planning and meeting with their team. Most agroforesters are employed by government agencies, especially by national and state park offices. Other agroforesters may be employed by private landowners looking for agricultural work on their farmland.
The median annual salary for foresters was $58,700, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. This category includes agroforesters.
Most agroforesters are employed by the government. Depending on what level of the government you are employed in, salary may vary. Federal government employees tend to make the highest salaries. Foresters employed by the federal government made a median annual salary of $64,000 in 2016. This is compared to state employees who made a median annual salary of $53,000 in 2016. Most agroforesters work full time schedules and have regular working hours.
Agroforester Career Outlook
Employment for agroforestry is expected to increase by 8 percent, which is faster growth than most other occupations within the United States.
Most foresters are employed by the federal and state governments, especially in our national and state parks. Location could be a factor in the ability to secure a position in this field. Those who live or are willing to relocate to the western or southern regions of the country may find more positions available, due to the large numbers of national and state parks in those areas.
Still, those living in other parts of the country may be able to find positions with the government or with private landowners. Due to the restricted budgets of the government, there may not be as many positions available. Governments will continue to be interested in this area of study, as interest in environmentalism and sustainability continues in the future.
If you would like to become an agroforester, read below for more information.
Step 1: Undergraduate Education. In order to become an agroforester you will need to earn your bachelor’s degree. Programs that would be good to get a degree in include forestry, conservation, environmental science, land management, sustainability, or something similar.
During this program you will take coursework, as well as be able to gain hands on fieldwork in this area of study. You will be able to decide if this career path is appropriate for you. It takes four years to earn your bachelor’s degree.
Step 2: Certification. There are currently 15 states that offer certification within the field of forestry. Certification is a good idea to have because it sets you apart from other professionals and allows others to see that you have received advanced training.
The Society of American Foresters (SAF) offers certification. In order to receive certification, you must have a bachelor’s degree, have several years of experience working in your field, and pass an exam offered by SAF.