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Agroforestry: providing a win win for farming and the environment

Helen Chesshire, from our advisory partner The Woodland Trust talks agroforestry…

Why should farmers consider agroforestry?  Whether you are an arable or livestock farmer, agroforestry – integrating trees into your farming system – offers multiple benefits.  It can boost productivity, increase wildlife, improve soil health and animal welfare, manage water flow and contribute to climate change mitigation.  Agroforestry can deliver while avoiding potential trade-offs between food production and public goods that occur in many modern farming systems.

There is a lot of talk about trees being a major solution to climate change, from the NFU to the Climate Change Committee.  The latter has firmly put trees on farms into its plans for the UK to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.   This should not be seen by farmers as a threat to food production but instead as an opportunity to improve resilience and performance of farm enterprises.

The interest in silvopasture – planting trees in livestock systems for shade, shelter and browsing – is gaining momentum.  Both the ‘beast from the east’ and last summer’s drought highlighted the benefits of having natural shade and shelter available.  The drought also highlighted the value of tree browse.   A well designed scheme provides many public goods – including enhanced biodiversity and a solution to climate change.

Silvoarable – planting trees in arable systems – can diversify and spread risk by providing an alternative tree crop in the form of fruit, nuts or timber.  It can also deliver environmental services; preventing soil erosion, improving water management and providing habitat for pollinators and beneficial insects alongside public goods. 

Find out more at Groundswell 2019 on 26th & 27th June.    It is an opportunity to join future focused farmers and growers at the UK’s leading annual Conservation Agriculture event hosted at Lannock Manor Farm in Hertfordshire.   The Woodland Trust is attending this event for the 1st time and can be found on stand FY2 situated just outside the main conference barn where we also be hosting the NFFN.  The WT will be running two seminars on agroforestry on Wednesday 26th June.

There is a growing band of farmers who have planted agroforestry systems into their farms and they and nature are reaping the benefits.  See their inspirational stories here Agroforestry in practice.

Let us help you plant trees on your farm. Visit woodlandtrust.org.uk/plant for more information.

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