27/11/2017

Farmers embrace agroforestry event at Allerton Project

Trees On Farm 2

SOME 30 arable and livestock farmers learnt about ways of embracing agroforestry at the Trees on Farm event at the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s (GWCT) Allerton Project, our research farm at Loddington in Leicestershire.

Run by Farmers Weekly in partnership with The Woodland Trust on Thursday November 23, a host of speakers discussed ways of building an integrated and productive agroforestry scheme as part of their farm business.

Professor Chris Stoate of GWCT kicked off proceedings by outlining how the Allerton Project has been researching the effects of different farming methods on wildlife and the environment, and sharing the results of the research through educational activities for over 25 years.

Trees On Farm 1

He was joined by fellow experts from the Woodland Trust, Forestry Commission and The Organic Research Centre as well as farmers who spoke about their real-world experiences and the many benefits of working within agroforestry.

The sessions focused on the benefits they have received from trees on their farms as well as the challenges along the way and how they have overcome them.

The live event, chaired by Farmers Weekly editor Karl Schneider, focused on providing farmers with the information and tools needed to begin and manage a successful, productive agroforestry scheme as part of their farming enterprise.

The topics included Why Plant Trees?, Financial Considerations & Policy implications for Tree Planting on Farms and Trees from The Woodland Trust as well as a tour of the Allerton Project, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in June.

The day ended with an informative and engaging discussion, with farmers directing plenty of questions at the panellists.

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Guests also took home a variety of guides, provided by the Woodland Trust, on tree planting.

Comments

Agroforestry

at 14:31 on 01/12/2017 by Mark Yorke (FICFor. retd.)

I was not at the meeting on 23/11. I have direct and indirect experience of the practical and management aspects of agroforestry ("The system of land use intergating production of timber - or fruit/nuts - with an agricultural crop - only grass for sheep - on the same land.") Assuming the owner has a financial objective (in addition to others ) the relevant tree species will require good quality soils, which may in fact be more financially viable under arable crops. The tree species (assuming the production of a valuable timber crop over the shortest practical timescale, intergrated with controlled sheep grazing is the primary objective) need to be those with good "apical dominance" such as Cherry, Cricket Bat Willow, Ash and Poplar for example, if they are to be planted at wide spacing prior to the introduction of sheep at a later date. Native broadleaf species promoted by the Woodland Trust are therefor incompatible (except Ash) with agroforestry because of their widespreading "bushy" growth at wide spacing, and eventual shading out of the grassland element. At the other end of the scale, apple orchards or walnut production may be feasible on the the appropriate soil type. More details on request.

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