January 2018

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Agroforestry is the intentional integration of trees and shrubs into agricultural and livestock farming to create economic and environmental benefits.  Cultures all over the world have been putting agroforestry into practice for centuries.

Agroforestry is great for the environment and the crops because it decreases damage from wind and rain.  The crops are able to gain access to more water and nutrients than simply water and feeding them alone.  Trees help regulate the carbon and humidity in the area.  Trees and shrubs can also encourage helpful wildlife to the crops.

By planting a variety of trees and crops, farmers can increase their productivity of the land.  The soil won’t be zapped of all of its natural resources, as the plants require different nutrients to grow.  

There are four main traits that must be met in order for a crop to be labeled as an agroforest.  

  1. Intentional:   Trees, crops, and wildlife are managed as one whole unit and are intentionally designed.
  2. Intensive:  Agroforestry practices are intensively managed to maintain their productive and protective functions.  They should also involve fertilization, irrigation, and cultivation.
  3. Interactive:  Management actively seeks to manipulate the biological functions between the trees, wildlife, and plants to enhance more than one harvestable crop at any time, while also providing conservational benefits.
  4. Integrated:  The trees, crops, and wildlife come together as one single integrated unit.  

Agroforestry is an important, ancient practice that helps to maintain the integrity of the land.  By integrating trees and shrubs into our crops and livestock, we can increase the amount of healthy food we eat, and provide natural habitats for wildlife.

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The type of soil used in planting your tree is vital to the health of your trees.  Most of the time we are focused on what is happening above ground that it is easy to overlook healthy soil, and what your tree needs to thrive.  Understanding soil basics will help you to maintain good tree growth.

There are several different varieties of soil, and certain soils can be mixed together to provide the ideal environment for your trees.  

Sandy–  Sandy soil is rough in texture and doesn’t retain moisture very well.  This can make it difficult for your tree to get the nutrition it needs.

Chalky–  Chalky soil is very rocky, usually comprised of bedrock or limestone.  This soil will need to be mixed with a soil rich in nutrients.

Clay–  Clay soil is very densely packed, and can feel sticky when wet.  This soil, because it is packed so tightly, will make it hard for your tree roots to access the air and moisture it needs to grow well.

Silt–  Silty soil is very slippery and silky.  It is able to retain moisture, but it may hold on to too much water for most trees.  

Peaty–  Peaty soil is very acidic.  This soil does not have many nutrients but does retain water well.

Loamy–  Loamy soil is the best soil for plants.  Holds moisture and has plenty of nutrients.

To test your soil to see what type it is, simply take a sample and place it in a mason jar with some water.  Shake the jar and let it sit overnight.  Where the soil settles will let you know what type of soil you are working with.  Sandy soil will settle at the bottom, while clay will rise to the top.  The others will lie somewhere in the middle.

Soil is very important in your tree’s health and its ability to get the water and nutrients it needs.  What type of soil is in your yard?

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A yard full of trees makes for a beautiful landscape, but it’s important to protect and care for them.  Here are some important reasons why your trees need to be cared for by an arborist.

  1. Arborists are skilled and trained to take care of trees.
    Arborists are trained to properly care for your trees, maintain them, and plant trees for your yard.  They can protect your tree from harmful bugs and prune your trees correctly to protect them from the elements.
  2. Arborists protect your investment.
    Trees are not only beautiful to look at, but can increase the property of your home.  A poorly maintained trees can not only decrease the value of your property, but can become a liability.
  3. Arborists can safely clean up after a storm.
    When a major storm hits, it can destroy or damage many trees on your property, making for a very dangerous situation.  Arborists have been trained on the proper way to safely clean up an damage caused from a storm.
  4. Arborists come equipped with the right tools.
    Arborists have the right tools they need to maintain, clean, prune, and care for your trees, without damaging them.
  5.  Arborists stay educated.
    A certified arborists is required to stay up to date on any new developments in tree care and maintenance.  They will most likely be able to help you and your trees with exactly what they need.

Arborists are the go to for anything trees.  Have you called your local arborists today?

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Plants illuminating our city streets and sidewalks as bright as street lamps sound like something straight from a fantasy novel, but it may not be too far off.  Scientists at MIT have been working and developing plants to produce a natural light. While the plants are still in a very preliminary mode, they could be the way to light our streets and our homes.

There are many benefits to using plants to light our way, according to Michael Sterno, professor of chemical engineering and leader of the research at MIT.

“Plants are made from carbon dioxide and consume carbon dioxide, so they are doubly carbon negative.” says Sterno.  The plant needs no additional electricity source, and should they die, they can be composted, making them great for the environment.

The team at MIT are dipping the plants into a solution of modified nanoparticles that reacts with the natural sugars in the plant, causing the plant to glow.  So far, the plant is only as bright as a nightlight, and lasts up to three and a half hours, but the group is working with the nanoparticles to make them longer lasting and brighter.

While it may be awhile until plants are lighting up our entire homes, Sterno and his team are hopeful.  Would you use plants to light your home?

Watch this video from MIT: