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Agroforestry

What is agroforestry

Agroforestry is the integration of trees with either crops or livestock on the same land. It aims to achieve additional benefits in comparison to keeping agriculture and trees separate.

Across the world, agroforestry encompasses a wide variety of practices ranging from simple shelterbelts of trees around fields to an intimate integration of food crops and trees.

Benefits of agroforestry

  • Farming and forestry working together in the same field, providing additional sources of sustainable on-farm revenue
  • Growing high-quality timber managed to integrate with livestock production and grass growth
  • Promoting animal welfare and contributing to better livestock productivity
  • Enhancing grass growth, biodiversity and water quality with improved shelter, soil health and nutrient capture
  • Supported by attractive establishment grants and annual premiums in addition to the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) on eligible land

Supports for agroforestry

New agroforestry planting is now supported with generous funding available under the Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme administered by the DAFM. Agroforestry can be planted standalone or in combination with other afforestation options, providing an opportunity for farmers to achieve
additional environmental, economic and practical objectives.

As with all afforestation schemes, the switch to agroforestry is a permanent land use change.

  • Establishment grant:
    supports the cost of planting and establishing new agroforestry, with current total available funding of €6,220/ha.
  • Annual forestry premium:
    up to €660/ha/annum. Currently paid for five years.
  • Choice of trees:
    oak, sycamore and cherry, including 15% fruit and nut trees with other species considered on a site-by-site basis.
  • Individual tree protection:
    each tree is protected by a tree shelter.
  • Tree numbers:
    to accommodate farming activity, trees are planted at wide spacing ranging 400-1,000 trees/ha, e.g., 400 trees/ha = 5m x 5m spacing.
  • Minimum area:
    0.5ha with a tree-to-tree width of 20m.

Further details regarding Agroforestry support measures can be found here.

Agroforestry in Ireland

Trees have a very important role in the farming landscape and agroforestry is now a specific grant category within the DAFM Forestry Programme. A landowner can apply for grant support to plant an area of agroforestry. With the continued need to increase the level of tree planting in Ireland, agroforestry is seen to have a role in contributing to this into the future.

Types of agroforestry in Europe

  1. Silvopastoral: trees and livestock (currently funded in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) Forestry Programme).
  2. Silvoarable: trees and crops.
  3. Hedgerows/shelterbelts/trees for water protection.
  4. Forest farming: crop cultivation within a forest, e.g., harvesting of forest fungi.
  5. Home gardens: tree and food production in small areas.