Agroforestry in the UK

Identifying the potential for incorporating agroforestry within farming systems in the north of the UK

Pilot project: Farmer visits May / June 2022. Workshop 24th June. This is a research partnership between Newcastle University and the Forestry Commission and Northumberland County Council. Policy brief synthesizing key findings here:

And reaching out to our farmer community: Purposeful tree planting – Agroforestry in the North East – NFUonline

Agroforestry is the deliberate integration of woody species onto farm land, it includes practices such as grazing animals under trees, alley cropping, windbreaks, riparian buffers and forest farming. In this project, we work with farmers and government as well as charity stakeholders in the north of the UK to understand opportunities and constraints for adoption of agroforestry practices.

Our four aims are to understand:

  1. Are farmers adopting/ considering adopting agroforestry practices on their farms?
  2. What challenges and opportunities do farmers see when managing farmed land using agroforestry?
  3. What technical support do farmers need to make agroforestry viable for their farm business?
  4. What support do farmers need from future policy (including ELMs) to make agroforestry workable for them?

Methods: We asked farmers to tell us what they would need in the context of agroforestry on UK farms, focussing on the challenges and opportunities for them and the needs for their farm business/activities.

  1. We have been visiting farms across Northumberland. These visits (~ 2 hrs) involved an interview with the farmer as they guides us around their farm to show us how they see their farm in the future, which may or may not involve agroforestry.
  2. We have been conducting interviews with key organisational stakeholders that are there to help farmers integrate agroforestry into their farming systems (e.g. Forestry Commission, Northumberland County Council) – the aim is to understand how organisations and policy may help or hinder incorporation of agroforestry.
  3. We hosted a one-day workshops, on 24th June. The workshop invited a mix of farmers, agroforestry experts and government stakeholders and was an opportunity to learn more about implementing agroforestry and the support available to do this.

Key Outputs

This research has allowed to build networks within Northumberland for people interested in agroforestry, provide information for further scientific research that is based on farmer perspectives, and help us understand how challenges can be overcome for land managers.

Output 1: Insights from the farm visits – synthesis document by Eleanor Moore and others

Output 2: An overview on agroforestry in the north of the UK – synthesis document by Eleanor Moore and others

Output 3: Examples of silvo-pastoral opportunities by the Forestry Commission (Jim O’Neill, Agroforestry advisor

Output 4: Workshop slides on how the process of agroforestry adoption can be started by farmers working with advisors, by the Forestry Commission

Output 5: A first overview on existing grants available to farmers. To be updated.

Output 6: NFU article by Eleanor on agroforestry.

Led by Dr Marion Pfeifer and Eleanor Moore Contact us for more information.

Marion is an Associate Professor in Landscape Ecology and Management in the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences at Newcastle University. She leads the TROPS lab, which studies resilience of rural crop production landscapes and how they can be managed for biodiversity and people. The group uses a range of tools including weather data and soil health measurements, aboveground biomass and productivity assessments, social survey and focus groups, satellite sensor data and field surveys for wildlife. Eleanor is a PhD candidate in the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences at Newcastle University. Her PhD focusses on capacities and constraints for tree planting on and around farms in rural tropical landscapes and the potential of agroforestry for climate change mitigation, sustainable intensification of food production and biodiversity conservation.