Agroforestry on 9 % of Europe's agricultural land could mitigate up to 43 % of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.
Climate protection thanks to agroforestry
Modern agroforestry systems
combine the cultivation of arable crops with trees, are managed using modern agricultural engineering methods, and are economically attractive. Swiss farmers show how this can look in practice (Hotspot 38/18), supported by the latest results of the European project ‘Agroforestry for Europe’ (AGFORWARD)’.
…have a positive impact on the agricultural landscape and on environmental services
After just seven years, the agroforestry system in central Switzerland (apple trees and arable crops) had brought about a substantial humus enrichment of 18 per cent compared with the cultivated area, not only in the topsoil, but down to a depth of 60cm.
Details (PDF, 260 kB, 08.04.2019)
By contrast, no root competition was found between arable crops and tree strips in an eight-year-old agroforestry system (sown meadow, apple and pear trees). Owing to tillage of the arable land, the trees rooted exclusively in the tree strips as well as in deeper soil layers.
Details (PDF, 124 kB, 08.04.2019)
In Schwarzbubenland (canton of Solothurn and Basel Country), the pollinator species Bombus terrestris (buff-tailed bumblebee) and Osmia bicornis (red mason bee) benefitted from agroforestry systems with cherry trees and extensively-managed meadows owing to under-utilisation of the food supply for a long period of time over the year, and supported the investigated populations.
Details (PDF, 176 kB, 08.04.2019)
A tool box for modelling environmental services of the agroforestry systems within a landscape was developed using the example of standard fruit-tree cultivation in Schwarzbubenland.
It was found that traditional agroforestry systems – irrespective of type, region or composition – have the potential to make an important contribution to soil, climate and water protection – i.e. to deliver regulatory environmental services.
Moreover, we humans also perceive agroforestry systems (positively). Using Web-based maps (ppGIS), the population of the Franches-Montagnes district (canton of Jura), among others, was questioned on the environmental services in their surroundings. According to this survey, a varied and diversified landscape offered the most perceived benefits.
…are socio-economically viable
Agroforestry systems can also be worthwhile in economic terms. As an example, the production of high-quality wood from wild cherry (Prunus avium) or walnut (Juglans regia) can represent a good long-term investment.
Details (PDF, 1 MB, 08.04.2019)
In the assessment of overall economic performance, once account is taken of the previously unmarketable environmental services in addition to the marketable services (fruit and wood), agroforestry landscapes are superior to agricultural landscapes.
…offer the potential to meet the challenges of climate change
Agroforestry systems could offset between 1.4% and 43.4% of the European agricultural sector’s current greenhouse-gas emissions if they were to be established on just 8.9% of European agricultural land.
More on this
Further European agroforestry results in Special Issue: Advances in European Agroforestry: results from the AGFORWARD project.
SRF, Schweiz aktuell, 05.07.2010
SRF Tagesschau, 21.09.2019:
Mit Agroforstwirtschaft das Klima retten
Hochstammbäume: Eine alte Form von Landwirtschaft
Erhöhte Humusvorräte in einem siebenjährigen Agroforstsystem in der Zentralschweiz (PDF, 260 kB, 08.04.2019)Seitz B., Carrand E., Burgos S., Tatti, D., Herzog, F., Jäger, M., Sereke, F.