What is agroforestry?
In short, agroforestry is a land management practice where trees and shrubs are incorporated into farming and agricultural systems.
There two main types of agroforestry – silvoarable (integrating trees with crops) and silvopasture (integrating trees with animal production).
The concept has been around for centuries and is a common practice in many countries around the globe. Notwithstanding this, at present, only a small proportion of land in the UK is used for agroforestry. However, the concept has continued to gain traction, and it has been predicted by some to revolutionise farming.
This article will briefly explore the benefits of agroforestry and the possible incentives.
The benefits of agroforestry
With the UK’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, owners of agricultural land (which currently forms roughly 70% the UK’s land) may begin to utilise agroforestry as a means of improving their environmental performance and carbon capture.
However, the benefits of agroforestry are not just limited to keeping the polar bears happy – it can also have the following benefits:
- Increased productivity – agroforestry can produce a greater crop yield, compared to conventional farming methods;
- Diversified income streams – agroforestry can help farmers to diversify their product offering (e.g. fruits and timber);
- Improvements to soil – agroforestry can improve soil quality and reduce soil erosion;
- Flood mitigation – agroforestry can help improve soil infiltration, and reduce the risk of flooding and damage to crops; and
- Increased biodiversity – agroforestry provides different habitats, improving biodiversity.
The incentives for agroforestry
There are a number of different grants and schemes which may be available to farmers and land owners who adopt agroforestry practices, including, but not limited to:
- Countryside Stewardship – which can offer funding to farmers and land managers who protect and enhance the natural environment;
- The England Woodland Creation Offer – which is a grant scheme, managed by the Forestry Commission and which supports a range of woodland creation types;
- The Woodland Creation Planning Grant – which is a grant to support the design of new woodland; and
- The Sustainable Farming Incentive – which rewards farmers for farming practices that help produce food sustainably and which protect the environment.
Further details can be found via the following link: (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/agroforestry-and-the-basic-payment-scheme).
We regularly advise farmers and landowners on diversification. If you have any questions, please do get in touch.