The UK farming community has been sceptical about the concept of agroforestry
Agroforestry comes of age, but will UK farmers embrace it?
2nd March, 2012
The practical evidence suggests agroforestry in the UK has got something to offer both commercial farmers and smallholders alike. The challenge now, says Ed Hamer, is how to encourage sceptical farmers that planting trees across farmland is a good idea
Agroforestry - growing trees on farms - is nothing new, in fact its decidedly ancient. The patchwork of copses, briars, standards and hedgerow trees we see across the countryside today are testament to the fact that our farmed landscape was actually carved out of the woods in the first place. Despite this, the estimated 14,000 miles of hedgerows and thousands of farmland trees we’ve seen scrubbed up within the space of a silvicultural-fortnight suggest that our tolerance for mixing trees with farming is not what it once was.
Of course, parkland trees weren’t always just romantic backdrops for period dramas, and there are practical reasons too why hedgerows contain a diversity of species. And although grazing sheep in orchards may be one of the only tenuous examples still widely practiced - there are still those who champion the role of the tree in the farming landscape.
Agroforestry has seen something of a two-pronged renaissance over the past decade or so. The first of these was arguably inspired by the late Robert Hart, a passionate agroecologist who dedicated his later life to creating the UK’s first temperate forest garden at his home in Shropshire. While Robert regarded his...
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