Agroforestry for farmers includes systems such as dehesa, montado, wood pasture, hedgerow trees, grazed orchards, intercropped olive groves, silvoarable alley cropping systems, and trees for poultry, pig, sheep or cattle production. We are the leaders of a European-wide project promoting the integration of trees with farming to improve profitability and the environment.
AGFORWARD is working with more than 800 farmers and other stakeholders in 15 countries across Europe to identify how agroforestry practices – farming with trees – can create profitable, productive and environmentally beneficial farming systems.
The €6 million, four-year project running from January 2014 to December 2017, involves two international institutions and more than 20 universities, research and farming organisations from across Europe. The European Agroforestry Federation is a partner.
Agroforestry practices occupy at least 15.4 million hectares or 3.6% of the land area of the European Union (according to the LUCAS land cover and land use dataset).
- Funded by European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)
Impact of our research
The findings include recommendations for farmers on best practice on farming with trees.
The results will also provide guidance as to how individual countries implement aspects of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy such as ecological focus areas and agri-environment measures in relation to agroforestry.
Why the research was commissioned
Historically, agriculture and forestry have been managed and regulated separately. In the context of recent concerns on food security, a demand for bioenergy, and environmental issues which require thinking at a landscape scale, we need a new approach. One way to maintain production and gain environmental benefits is to work with farmers to identify how integrating trees can produce more sustainable farming systems while maintaining or increasing profitability. There can also be wider benefits for society.
The project co-ordinator, Dr Paul Burgess, has more than 23 years’ experience in tree and crop agronomy and economics, and has spent more than 19 years in temperate agroforestry research including evaluation of cultural services.