Trees on farms 'can boost productivity by 30%'

Planting trees can boost farm productivity, according to the handbook
Planting trees can boost farm productivity, according to the handbook

Planting trees on farm can boost productivity by 30% and improve animal welfare, according to a new agroforestry handbook published this week.

It aims to inform farmers of the benefits of agroforestry, as well as helping farmers decide which trees and system are best for their farm.

Drawing on case studies from across the globe, the new handbook concludes that agroforestry systems are often more than 30% more productive than monocultural systems.

It also highlights opportunities for farmers to replace imports with tree products such as fruit, nuts, fence post timber, animal bedding, fuel wood and mulches.

The free handbook is produced in collaboration with the Farm Woodland Forum and the Soil Association.

Ben Raskin, Soil Association head of horticulture & agroforestry, said: “At a time of great environmental and political uncertainty, planting trees on farms is a great way to help farmers keep their farms sustainable and resilient for years to come.

“Trees can bring a whole range of benefits both to the farm and wider environment including improved soil health, carbon capture, biodiversity and animal welfare, as well as protecting soil from wind and water erosion given the increasingly volatile weather we are getting.”

He added: “There is a lack of support and information available from government on how farm businesses can make agroforestry work both in the long and short term, so we are delighted to have been a part of this project to create a practical guide for farmers.”

The guide provides detail on the different types of agroforestry, including combining trees and livestock in silvopastoral systems, combining trees and crops in silvoarable systems, and using hedgerows, shelterbelts and riparian buffer strips.

According to the handbook, improving animal welfare with trees can boost farm productivity with 17% increase in milk production and 50% reduction in lamb mortality.