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Small Woodlands on Farms

Trees and small woodlands on dairy and drystock farms – a review (RMIS 1146)


The Post 2020 CAP will encourage further tree-planting on farms to promote ecosystem services and sustainable land-use.

  • Where should this hectare of forest be in dairy and drystock farms?
  • What benefits/costs are there to the farmer and the State?

There is a need to identify and collate state-of-art in trees and small woodlands on Irish dairy and drystock farms. This will require collaboration across Teagasc fields of research.

Project objectives

  1. Collate state-of-art in management of existing, and establishment and management of new trees/small woodlands on dairy and drystock farms and their impacts on ecosystem services.
  2. Investigate dairy and drystock farmer attitudes and perceptions of small woodlands on dairy farms
  3. Inform policy and guidelines for management of existing, and establishment and management of new trees/small woodlands on dairy and drystock farms.


The review will identify knowledge gaps and collate information on:

  • impacts on CO2 sequestration;
  • impacts on biodiversity;
  • impacts on ammonia emissions;
  • impact on water quality;
  • impacts on micro-climate;
  • effects on pasture and livestock;
  • design, establishment and management of tree-planting for dairy and drystock farms.

A survey, guided by Meijer et al’s (2016) conceptual framework for understanding the adoption of agricultural innovations, of dairy/drystock farmer attitudes and perceptions of farm woodlands and trees will be conducted.

First, an exploratory phase engaging with dairy/drystock farmers who have already adopted farm woodlands/trees. Factors that influenced these farmers to adopt will be explored. Their views as to what barriers exist to the greater adoption of farm woodlands/trees among dairy/drystock farmers will also be queried. Their understanding of the ecosystem services that these deliver will also be assessed.

A survey of dairy/drystock farmers to determine their knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of farm woodlands/trees as well as their willingness to engage in forestry, will be conducted. The structure of the questionnaire will be framed by Meijer et al’s (2016) framework of extrinsic and intrinsic factors that act as barriers or drivers to the uptake of agroforestry. The survey will also determine what farmers perceive to be the ecosystem services provided by small woodlands and trees on dairy/drystock farms.

The above will inform policy and guidelines to be created for farm woodlands/trees on Irish dairy and drystock farms.

Project Team

Teagasc project advisory group

  • Dr John Finn – Biodiversity and Farmland Ecology, Teagasc 
  • Dr Catherine Keena – Countryside Management Specialist, Teagasc 
  • Dr Pat Murphy – Head of Research Dept., Environment Specialists - Teagasc 
  • Dr Daire O'hUallacháin – Agro-ecology, Teagasc 
  • Dr Nuala Ni Fhlatharta – Head of Forestry Development Department, Teagasc 
  • Dr Mary Ryan – Environmental Economics / Rural Development Specialist, Teagasc 
  • Dr Brendan Horan – Grassland Science, Teagasc 
  • Dr Padraig French – Head of Livestock Systems Dept. and Dairy Enterprise Leader, Teagasc 
  • Dr Pat Dillon – Head of Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Programme, Teagasc 
  • Dr Donal O'Brien – Carbon and Methane of livestock systems, Teagasc