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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 Income Support for Sustainability (BISS) on eligible land

Supports for agroforestry

New agroforestry planting is supported with generous funding available under the Forestry Programme 2023-2027 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.

Further details regarding available financial support can be found here: Forest Type 8 - Agroforestry support measure. 

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
  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