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The Center for Agroforestry

About the Center

The Center for Agroforestry at the University of Missouri, established in 1998, is one of the world?s leading centers contributing to the science underlying agroforestry practices. Agroforestry practices involve intensive land-use management combining trees and/or shrubs with crops and/or livestock.

Agroforestry practices help landowners create multi-functional working landscapes to diversify products, markets and farm income; improve soil, water and air quality; sequester carbon; mitigate and adapt to climate change; enhance and conserve land and water habitats for fish and wildlife; and increase biodiversity while sustaining land resources for generations to come.

The five integrated practices of agroforestry - forest farming, alley cropping, silvopasture, upland and riparian forest buffers and windbreaks - are tailored to fit the unique needs of individual landowners and their farms.

Message from the Director


To support the long-term future of rural and urban working farms and forests by achieving economic, environmental and social sustainability. The Center?s long-term research, teaching and technology transfer efforts help make a better Missouri, U.S. and world by:

  • Discovering, integrating and applying new agroforestry knowledge and technologies to promote economic, environmental and social vitality; and
  • Educating and training students, professionals, scientists, leaders and general public who are empowered to make a difference locally, regionally and globally.


To be a preeminent global center in agroforestry research, education and technology transfer with comprehensive programs that encompass ecological and economic sustainability, commodity production, environmental conservation and stewardship and integrated management.

UMCA Philosophy

"A farm can be regarded as a food factory and the criterion for its success is saleable products. Or, it can be regarded as a place to live, and the criterion for its success is harmonious balance between plants, animals and people; between the domestic and the wild; and between utility and beauty." - Aldo Leopold

The Center for Agroforestry at the University of Missouri: Road Map 2020

Center for Agroforestry Goals:

The major goal of the MU Center for Agroforestry is to support the long-term future of the family farm and forests and play a part in the revitalization of rural and urban communities and landscapes. The Center?s long-term research efforts focus on two major themes: (1) Providing scientific evidence that documents many of the environmental benefits of agroforestry practices (e.g., improving soil, water and air quality); and (2) Demonstrating the viability of niche crop production to augment the economic opportunities on the family farm.

With long-term financial support from the USDA Agriculture Research Service (ARS) multiple short-term research grants, along with a host of public and private partnerships, the Center continues to make impressive strides as a leader in the science and practice of agroforestry.

Environmental impacts
Across the nation, commercial agriculture is under pressure to mitigate the environmental impacts from farming (i.e., livestock and crop production). The MU Center for Agroforestry is a national leader in the development of vegetative environmental buffer technologies to reduce nonpoint source pollution (e.g., atrazine, veterinary antibiotics, sediment, nitrogen, phosphorus, etc.). Direct impacts from the application of our research includes addressing the issues of surface and ground water quality (e.g., hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico; drinking water quality, etc.) and air quality in association with commercial agriculture (e.g., confined animal feeding operations).

Rural development/alternatives for the family farm
The MU Center for Agroforestry is a national leader in development of specialty crops for alternative income sources on the family farm including northern pecan, black walnut, Chinese chestnut, elderberry, gourmet mushrooms, species for bioenergy production, etc. In 1995, research was initiated to develop genetically improved cultivars of northern pecan, black walnut and chestnut as new specialty crops for growers in Missouri and the Midwest. Fourteen years later (2009), the Center is on the cusp of launching new, profitable, locally-based nut industries in the Midwest region. To launch a new nut crop industry, nut tree improvement activities (e.g., breeding and selection) are essential. Currently, the Center for Agroforestry has the largest germplasm repository and genetic improvement program for eastern black walnut and Chinese chestnut in the U.S. - two species poorly represented in the ARS National Plant Germplasm System. The Center also maintains a large germplasm repository of northern pecan.


  • Conduct, coordinate and promote interactive research on agroforestry practices to improve the production and protection functions of agricultural and forest lands.
  • Conduct, coordinate and promote interdisciplinary research on the social, economic and market dimensions of agroforestry.
  • To conduct a technology transfer program that increases the awareness and adoption of agroforestry practices.
  • Conduct, coordinate and promote interdisciplinary research on the policy dimensions of agroforestry.
  • Provide formal educational opportunities in agroforestry through the University of Missouri
  • Develop and carry out a collaborative international agroforestry program in the areas of instruction, research and outreach.

UMCA Recent Key Accomplishments:

  • Found potential antibacterial and skin-cancer-fighting compounds in redcedar, a common, low-value Missouri tree.
  • Began studies to determine if agroforestry buffers can stop or reduce contamination of water and soil by animal antibiotics.
  • Hosted the international 11th North American Agroforestry Conference, early summer 2009.
  • Researchers conducting the most comprehensive testing ever performed on the practice of vegetative environmental buffers for odor abatement.
  • Completed restoration on historic 1819 Hickman House, located on the Center?s Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center.
  • Green Horizons, a newsletter jointly produced by the Center for Agroforestry and MU Forestry Extension, was named Top Newsletter for 2007 by the Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals.
  • Published updated shiitake mushroom growing guide featuring new UMCA research to aid growers, and new succession planning guide for educating forestland owners.
  • Researchers first to isolate and identify the bacterial populations of the Burgundy truffle.
  • Launched Web site to enable growers to compare nuts of black walnut cultivars side-by-side.
  • Found evidence that potential biofuel crop sweet sorghum can be grown on flood-prone sites.
  • Initiated long-term studies to see if dwarfing rootstocks are profitable for chestnut and black walnut growers.
  • Found alleycropping has a positive effect on beneficial insect populations, regardless of crops or row sizes used.
  • Began test marketing pawpaw, a native Missouri tree with potential as a specialty crop for the diverse family farm.
  • UMCA researchers and collaborators typically publish more than 80 articles in scientific journals and the popular press each year.
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