NFTs have distinct potential as a source of fixed nitrogen for improving farm productivity when interplanted with agricultural crops. Additional advantages occur in microclimatic improvement, nutrient cycling, and soil conservation. Appropriate planting and management techniques can make large amounts of nitrogen and other nutrients available to the associated crops. This is especially true of the intensive management of hedgerows intercropping (alley farming). In contrast, wide-row intercropping is a less intensive system with more emphasis on tree products. The use of trees for crop shade ("nurse trees") places emphasis on microclimatic improvements for associated crops. And finally, trees are also used as support for vining crop species.
Rows of trees should be planted on contour lines, now universally advised. Planting of trees on contours not only leads to improved erosion control, but also forms a permanent marker on the contours for the farmer. Tree rows can lead to the natural formation of terraces, especially when planted in association with grasses and other plants on the contour. Planting trees on established terrace edges can help in stabilizing the terrace, while providing new tree products.