Agroforestry Innovations to be evaluated for Livestock Farmers

During 2014, a participative research and development network focused on agroforestry for livestock systems in Europe was established. It core comprises eight stakeholder groups , although the group also draws on work with high value trees and ruminants in Northern Ireland, UK. Each group has sought to identify the key opportunities, constraints and potential innovations to promote the use of their systems. During December 2014, the facilitators of these groups synthesised their results to identify key areas on which to focus research and development during the remainder of the AGFORWARD project.

A first area of focus is to close the knowledge gap between researchers and practitioners

There is a need to develop a ‘Best practice guide’ (based on the experience of practitioners and the theoretical knowledge of researchers), that can guide farmers on how to establish profitable agroforestry systems with livestock under different environmental and socio-economic conditions.

There is a need for better collation of the nutritional value of the components of the shrubs and trees being used in agroforestry systems.

A second area of focus was the need for new experimental work. As of January 2015, the following experiments are planned:

  • The nutritional value of woody vegetation for livestock (planned in France and Spain)
  • The effect of trees on minimising nitrate leaching with free-range pigs (planned in Denmark)
  • The identification of shade-tolerant swards in poultry systems (planned in the UK)
  • The productivity of sheep silvopastoral systems (planned in the UK and France)
  • The third area of focus is the development of demonstration activities. As of January 2015, the following trials and demonstrations were planned:
  • Cattle preference for the leaves of different tree species (planned in the Netherlands and the UK).
  • The protection of young trees from sheep, cattle or pigs (planned in France, the Netherlands, Italy, and Denmark)
  • Interactions between trees and the behaviour and welfare of pigs (planned in Italy and Denmark)
  • Effect of tree layout and management on use of the range by poultry (planned in the Netherlands).
  • Effect of tree layout on animal welfare, forage production, and labour use in dairy systems (planned in France).
  • The effect of different tree cultivars (planned in the UK)
  • The effect of system design on an agroforestry system for goats and poultry (planned in the Netherlands)

Hermansen JE, Kongsted AG, Bestman M, Bondesan V, Gonzalez P, Luske B, McAdam J, Mosquera-Losada MR, Novak S, Pottier E, Smith J, van Eekeren N, Vonk M, Burgess PJ (2015). Agroforestry Innovations to be evaluated for Livestock Farmners. Milestone 5.2 (MS 21) for EU FP7 Research Project: AGFORWARD 613520. 10 pp.

For further information on this work, please contact John Hermansen: