Research projects

Agroforestry ELMS Test on advice and guidance

Contract Period : 01/09/2023 - 31/05/2025

Main Funder : Defra

ORC Staff Contact : Will Simonson

Building on the recently completed Agroforestry Test 106, this project (Agroforestry 404 ELMS Test) led by the Woodland Trust will develop different advice and guidance offers to farmers embarking on agroforestry and test their effectiveness in supporting successful design of agroforestry systems.

The aim is to support development of agroforestry subsidy support through Defra’s Environment Land Management Schemes Sustainable Farming Incentive (ELMS SFI) and Countryside Stewardship Plus (CS+) programmes.

Project summary

Agroforestry has an important yet currently unrealised role to play in tackling the nature and climate crisis whilst enabling farming to adapt to climate change and continue to produce food.  In the January 2023 update, Defra confirmed that they will pay for actions to encourage the creation and management of agroforestry systems within the environmental land management schemes (ELMS). However, it is widely accepted that a significant barrier to farmers taking up agroforestry is a lack of knowledge and expertise.  This was a key finding in the Defra ELM Test 106 on agroforestry that ORC completed in 2023, working with the Woodland Trust, Soil Association and Abacus Agriculture (See final report). 

To address this barrier, a 2nd Agroforestry ELMS Test funded by Defra, has been launched. Led by the Woodland Trust, and with ORC and the National Trust as partners, the aim is to test a range of advice and guidance structures with farmers as they go through the process of designing and then applying for funding for their own bespoke agroforestry scheme.

A group of farmers is being recruited to be put through one of four different options for learning about agroforestry:

  1. One-to-one advice on farm
  2. One-to-many in-person event including farm tour
  3. One-to-many webinars
  4. Self-tuition using available resources.

Phase 1 farmers will go through the advice testing process and produce an agroforestry design plan between January and April 2024. A 2nd phase of farmers will follow and the Test is due to complete in May 2025.

ORC’s Role

ORC is responsible for helping to design these different learning structures and monitor knowledge attainment of the farmers as they take them up.

Project leader and partners:

Project Lead: Woodland Trust

Partners: ORC and The National Trust

Previous relevant work

ORC Team involved with this project

Principal Researcher, Agroforesty
Senior Agroforestry Researcher
Christian Gossel
Farm Sustainability Researcher