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Agroforestry

Consciously integrating trees and shrubs with agriculture. There are many different forms of agroforestry.

Agroforestry, also called tree farming or agroforestry,  is the combination of woody crops (i.e. trees and shrubs) with agriculture (arable farming, horticulture, livestock). By applying this combination, new products and/or services are created in the ecological, economic and social fields.

Agroforestry has many different forms but can be divided into four main groups as shown above. If you want to learn more about the different forms of agroforestry, click on the above themes. In addition to the above forms of agroforestry, it is also possible to plant trees and shrubs such as wood belts, windbreaks and buffer strips along banks. Whether it also falls under agroforestry depends on the way in which this is done. Again, it is about the conscious combination of tree/shrub and agriculture.

The main principle on which a successful agroforestry system rests is mainly the ecological resilience of nature and therefore agroforestry is nothing new. Introducing trees and/or shrubs on an agricultural plot affects the soil, water management, (micro)climate, biodiversity and other ecosystem services in the short and long term, which can also increase crop yield and quality. The agroecological effects and also biophysical changes on the plot have a unique influence on the plot, the farm, the farmer, the nature, and the people around it.

Agroforestry is a long term thing, a very long term even if you compare it with current agriculture and the common one-year cycles. So it is a bit of a different way of thinking, no longer in the singular but in the plural. There is a lot of other knowledge involved when you start applying agroforestry to your farm. Jade Reforestry, together with various partners, is ready to help you on your way to a successful agroforestry system. Normally you will first get to work for a year with orientation and looking around at other companies. Then, when you have more clarity about what kind of agroforestry system suits you and your company, we will start working on a design plan. Jade Reforestry offers various options for this. We can make a global plan with sketches and drawings and a short description about the model. If you want customization, that is certainly possible. Please get in touch if you have any questions about this.

Forest Farming or other agroforestry systems that are not silvopastoral or silvicultural agroforestry is also a form of land use with trees and shrubs that is very similar to agroforestry. Think of wood belts, windbreaks or buffer strips along the sides of banks. In addition to forest farming, these forms are also called forest gardening, home gardens or food forests. These systems are clearly on the rise, but there are still challenges in the area of the revenue model and harvestability. Forest farming is closely related to certain permaculture principles and agroecological principles, which is also reflected in the design. The aim is for maximum yield, but also maximum complementary synergy between a diverse number of types of plants. For example, in addition to the producing species, species are also planted for nitrogen fixation, potassium pumps, soil cover and all kinds of multifunctional plants. A potential cultivation system, but for some farms still a few steps too far.

Silvopastoral agroforestry is the combination of trees and shrubs with livestock. Traditional forms of silvopastoral agroforestry include grazing in wooded areas, forest meadows, meadows with rows of trees or under fruit or nut orchards. There are also newer forms of silvopasture agroforestry that integrate animal and plant agricultural production. For example, chicken run with trees and shrubs or pigs in the forest. Farmers and landowners see silvopastoral agroforestry as an interesting and accessible cultivation system and are happy to work with integrating forage hedges on their plots.

Silvicultural agroforestry is the combination of trees and shrubs with the cultivation of crops. This can be done in combination with arable farming, horticulture, low-stem fruit cultivation, small fruit cultivation, short rotation timber, ornamental crops and other forms of vegetable farming. This form of agroforestry is still fairly new in the Netherlands, but is being cautiously introduced in certain regions. In France and Belgium they have similar cultivation systems, because where the climate has become more extreme, silvicultural agroforestry is increasingly used for a future-proof form of crop production. The most common form of silvicultural agroforestry is row cropping (also called alley cropping) where trees are planted in rows with relatively large distances. In between, the crops are grown in a way that it is still workable with the same processing and harvesting machines. Silvicultural agroforestry can be found on large-scale arable fields but also on CSA farms.

We see agroforestry on the house plot more and more in the Netherlands. It used to be quite normal, a walnut tree and a hawthorn hedge at the stable. A richer yard planting with more life around the house. There are many options for applying agroforestry close to home. If the combination with a certain form of agriculture is made with the trees and shrubs, it falls under agroforestry. Therefore, planting on or around the house plot is often not seen as agroforestry, while the trees and shrubs also have an influence on the house plot and thus the agricultural company. It may not be integrated with the cultivation of crops or the health of the livestock, but it can have a positive influence on the image of the company. For example, walnut trees can keep mosquitoes and flies away and braided hawthorn hedges keep livestock within the enclosure.

Forest farming
Silvopastorale
House lot
Silvicultural
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