Forestry or farming? Agroforestry offers a third way

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Extreme weather at harvest can reduce cereal yields by 20 per cent, but for Stephen Briggs’ Cambridgeshire farm, the natural windbreak provided by agroforestry cut the loss by half during the storms of 2019.

The benefits for farmers of growing trees within crops are not widely known, according to Dr Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-TechE.

“Agroforestry offers more than habitats for wildlife,” comments Dr Clarke, ahead of an Agri-TechE online event “Seeing the Wood for the Trees,” on 8th October at 10am. The event sees Briggs, and others, discuss the potential of agroforestry for improving cropping, livestock production and as an alternative source of income.

Briggs grows apple trees in strips across 52 hectares of fen soil on Whitehall Farm. He recounts: “In 2019 we lost about 20% of the grain in the high winds. However, in the fields with agroforestry, the losses were less than 10%. The trees slowed down the wind saving £215/ha worth of output.

“Growing fruit alongside cereals also means I’m doubling productivity across my farm, by effectively growing in three dimensions, throughout the year,” Briggs continues.

The Agri-TechE online event, ‘Seeing the Wood for the Trees,’ will occur on October 8th. For more info and to reserve your place, visit www.agri-tech-e.co.uk/events

For more on agroforestry check out the Autumn edition of Tillage & Soils.

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