The agricultural industry in the UK is going through a major period of change. Farmers, foresters and policy-makers are exploring alternative approaches to rural land use. Agroforestry is one such alternative. This combines agriculture and forestry on the same unit of land.
For example, in some areas of the world, land managers grow both timber crops and other agricultural products on the same ground or poplar trees may be grown at a wider spacing and domestic animals grazed underneath.
Worldwide, agroforestry is a major land use but is a bit of an unknown in the UK. There are few commercial examples of agroforestry systems here at present.
There are two main types of agroforestry appropriate to our temperate conditions:
- Silvoarable practices where crops are grown between rows of trees and/or shrubs, widely spaced to allow the use of agricultural machinery.
- Silvopastoral practices are where trees are grown in grazed pastureland and the trees are not necessarily in lines.
More: FC Bulletin 122 "Agroforestry in the UK", by M. Hislop. 2000.