Agroforestry is a concept of integrated land use that combines elements of agriculture and forestry in a sustainable production system. There are both ecological and economic interactions between the trees and crops and/or livestock elements in an agroforestry system. These interactions can lead to higher productivity compared to conventional systems, and provide a wide range of services including soil management, microclimate modification, weed control, natural fencing, carbon sequestration and nutrient recycling.
In its simplest form, agroforestry can be described as 'growing trees on farms' and includes the integration, both ecologically and economically, of the woody elements that may already be present in agricultural landscapes, such as hedgerows, windbreaks, buffer zones, trees in pasture, and small woodlands. At a greater level of complexity are agroforestry systems that are fully integrated structured systems where standard trees, orchard trees and/or coppice systems are grown in rows between crops or pasture in an alley-cropping design.
Agroforestry farms in the UK
Agroforestry policy and grants
Links to further information
ORC staff involvedDr. Jo Smith, Prof. Martin Wolfe and Sally Westaway.
The focus of our agroforestry research programme is the evaluation of a range of agroforestry systems (including both crops and livestock) in terms of their productivity, environmental and economic impacts, and their potential for agri-environmental policy. We are also investigating the potential of hedges and other landscape elements as sources for biofuels and other products, generating an income to support their management and conservation.
Gosme et al (Eds.) (2016) Celebrating 20 years of Agroforestry research in Europe: Book of Abstracts. 3rd European Agroforestry Conference, 23-25 May 2016
Chambers M, Crossland M, Westaway S, Smith J (2015) A guide to harvesting woodfuel from hedges. ORC Technical Guide.
Crossland M, Westaway S, Gerrard C, Smith J (2015) A protocol for monitoring the impacts of harvesting hedges for woodfuel on biodiversity
Smith, J., Pearce, B.D. and Wolfe, M.S. 2012. Reconciling productivity with protection of the environment: Is temperate agroforestry the answer? Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems. doi:10.1017/S1742170511000585
Smith, J., Pearce, B.D. and Wolfe, M.S. 2012. A European perspective for developing modern multifunctional agroforestry systems for sustainable intensification. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems. doi:10.1017/S1742170511000597
Palma, J., Chalmin, A., Burgess, P., Smith, J., Strachan, M., Ruiz Mirazo, J. and Rosati, A. (Eds.) (2014) Integrating Science and Policy to Promote Agroforestry in Practice: Book of Abstracts. 2nd European Agroforestry Conference, 04-06 June 2014, Cottbus, Germany
Varah, A., Smith, J., Jones, H. and Potts, S.G. (2014). Delivering food production, biodiversity and other ecosystem services in agriculture: can agroforestry do it all? Agriculture and the Environment X, Delivering Multiple Benefits from our Land: Sustainable Development in Practice Pg. 99-105
Smith, J., Girling, R.D., Wolfe, M.S. and Pearce, B.D. (2014). Agroforestry: Integrating apple and arable production as an approach to reducing copper use in organic and low-input apple production. Agriculture and the Environment X, Delivering Multiple Benefits from our Land: Sustainable Development in Practice Pgs. 278-284.
Smith, J. 2010. Agroforestry: Reconciling Production with Protection of the Environment. A Synopsis of Research literature. (Click here to access the pdf from Organic Eprints).
Smith, J. 2010. The History of Temperate Agroforestry. (Click here to access the pdf from Organic Eprints).
Smith, J. 2010. Agroforestry Policy Review. (Click here to access the pdf from Organic Eprints).
Other relevant websites
Farm Woodland Forum (FWF) The Farm Woodland Forum aims to facilitate the generation and exchange of information that supports best practice in and improves opportunities for farming with trees.
The European Agroforestry Federation (EURAF): The European Agroforestry Federation aims to promote the use of trees on farms as well as any kind of silvopastoralism throughout the different environmental regions of Europe.
World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) mission is to generate science-based knowledge about the diverse benefits - both direct and indirect - of agroforestry, or trees in farming systems and landscapes, and to disseminate this knowledge to develop policy options and promote policies and practices that improve livelihoods and benefit the environment. They focus more on tropical agroforestry systems.
The Woodland Trust is UK's largest woodland conservation charity; they protect and campaign on behalf of this country’s woods, plant more trees, and restore ancient woodland, for the benefit of wildlife and people. In recent years they have been actively promoting tree planting on farms.