Agroforestry for arable farmers: Results of innovations

This Deliverable within work-package 4 summarises the results of thirteen “lesson-learnt” reports within the participative research and development network focused on agroforestry for arable farmers. The individual lesson learnt reports are available on the associated web-pages for each stakeholder group.

In synthesising the results, the following points are highlighted.

  • The studied agroforestry systems for arable farmers were all relatively new with most of the trees being planted within the last 20 years in relatively straight lines to enable continued use of standard arable machinery to plant, manage and harvest the arable crops.
  • The width of the arable alleys in the studied system ranged from 6 m to 96 m. In understanding the interactions between trees, tree rows and arable crops, it is important to understand the alley width being considered.
  • It can be difficult to design experiments that allow the correct statistical testing of a positive effect of the trees on arable yields, relative to an open control area. There is some evidence that the wind protection benefits of trees in eastern Germany and Hungary provided crop yield benefits relative to control areas. There is also some evidence that in particularly hot years in Mediterranean Spain, the yield of barley between plantation trees was greater than in a control area. By contrast, reduced arable yields near the tree row were measured in six of the experiments.
  • Some crop – tree combinations are more complementary than others. Early-maturing barley gave higher yields than wheat beneath walnut in Mediterranean Spain. Medicinal plants proved to be a promising understory crop with higher concentrations of active ingredients under shade conditions.
  • There is also evidence that some durum wheat, wheat, and barely cultivars are more suited to being grown in proximity with trees than other cultivars.
  • It is possible to get a regular revenue from the trees if they produce a fruit crop e.g. apples, or are harvested as short rotation coppice.
  • Integrating trees with arable crops can result in additional management and labour costs. Planting the trees in lines can enable continued mechanised management of arable crops.
  • Across the sites, the integration of trees provided multiple environmental benefits in terms of reduced wind speed, improved soil health, increased biodiversity, increased nutrient retention, and greater carbon storage.

Kanzler, M., Tsonkova, P., Arenas-Corraliza, M.G., Boinot, S., Burgess, P.J., Cathcart-James, M., Cherubini, M., Chiocchini, F., Ciolfi, M., Costanzo, A., Dalla Valle, C., Desclaux, D., Fernández Lorenzo, J.L., Ferreiro Domínguez, N., Fradgeley, N., González Hernández, P., Gosme, M., Jäger, M., Kiss Szigeti, N., Ia-Laurent, L., Lauteri, M., Leonardi, L., López-Díaz, M.L., Mantzanas, K., Marosvölgyi, B., Mézière, D., Mirck, J., Moreno, G., Mosquera Losada, M.R., Mullender, S., Muller, L., Pantera, A., Papadopoulos, A., Papanastasis, V., Paris, P., Rigueiro Rodríguez, A., Schettrer, P., Smith, J., Spaccino, L., Venot, C., Vityi, A., de Waal, L., Wartelle, R., Westaway S., Wolfe, M. (2018). Agroforestry for arable farmers: Results of innovations. Deliverable 4.11 (4.2) Agroforestry for arable farmers: Results of innovations. AGFORWARD project 613520 (28 January 2018). 16 pp.

A description of some of the dissemination activity related to the lessons learnt is provided in the following report:

Kanzler, M., Tsonkova, P., Desclaux, D., Ferreiro Domínguez, N., Gosme, M., Jäger, M., Mézière, D., Mantzanas, K., Mirck, J., Moreno, G., Mosquera Losada, M.R., Pantera, A., Paris, P., Smith, J., Vityi, A., Wartelle, R. (2018). Agroforestry for arable farmers: Dissemination of results and recommendations. Milestone 19 for the AGFORWARD project. 7 February 2018. 18 pp.