Last two months have been very exciting for the European Agroforestry Federation Executive Committee with the preparation of the major “3rd European Agroforestry Conference“ event. The event brought together to all those enthusiastic researchers and farmers keen on agroforestry from all over Europe. The “3rd European Agroforestry Conference” was excellently organized by Christian Dupraz, with the help of staff from INRA and the French Agroforestry Association (AFAF), and had the honor to have the French Minister of Agriculture Mr. Stephane Le Foll in the opening session, where María Rosa Mosquera-Losada and Gerry Lawson also presented the work carried out by EURAF to promote agroforestry across the European institutions. Representatives of the European Commission, ICRAF, the Temperate Agroforestry Federation were also present during the event. The event also counted with the 5 times honorary doctorate degrees (Honoris Causa) Dr. PKR Nair. All of them had a working lunch to evaluate the possibility of developing adequate strategies to promote agroforestry at EU level with a high success.
The conference ended with the 3rd General Assembly, with the participation of all EURAF Executive Members explaining the main activities carried out during the last two years. An election was carried out with all EURAF members at the end of the session, that proposed the members of the Elected Executive Committee. The final assignment of positions was agreed during the last Executive Committee meeting as follows: President: María Rosa Mosquera-Losada, Deputy President: Gerry Lawson, Secretary: Joana Amaral Paulo, Deputy Secretary: Anastasia Pantera, Treasurer: Fabien Balaguer and Deputy Treasurer: Jeroen Watté. Congratulations to all elected members. Within the meeting, it was agreed to give a big THANK YOU to our previous Deputy Secretary Adolfo Rosati and wish an excellent agroforestry stage in the USA.
EURAF was also involved in the Rural Development Civil Dialogue Group (CDG) meeting with the participation of Gerry Lawson and María Rosa Mosquera-Losada where the importance of reliable data of the real impact of policy in Agroforestry was requested. Other meetings where EURAF was participated in the last two months were the European Structural and Investment Funds, the CAP and Organic Farming CDG and the Innovation sub-group of the European Network for Rural Development (ENRD) where agroforestry was promoted. The participation on the Arable CDG has lead to an agroforestry session in the forthcoming Arable CDG event to be held next 6 July in Brussels.
Finally, EURAF has contributed to several members of the European Parliament presented an amendment concerning the inclusion of the agroforestry systems as a way to generate employment in the rural areas (Amendments 1 - 331 to the parliamentary report: “How can the CAP improve job creation in rural areas?”).
Figure 1: The leaving Deputy Secretary (Adolfo Rosati) with the EURAF President (María Rosa Mosquera-Losada) during the 3rd European Agroforestry Conference.
2.1 Farming Biodiversity: A new Organic Agroforestry System in UK
Acclaimed UK organic grower Iain Tolhurst (or Tolly) is well known for saying that he manages his system to produce biodiversity, through careful planning of rotations, areas set aside for biodiversity such as nettle and beetle banks and sensitive management of the soil, with vegetables as a bio-product. Now he has gone one step further and added trees to the mix, planting up an agroforestry system in one of the fields with the aim of diversifying his system to provide benefits for the vegetable enterprise as well as supporting higher biodiversity.
With funding for the trees provided by the Woodland Trust through their Trees for Farms scheme, Tolly and his crew planted up a 3ha field with 600 trees in early 2015, with trees planted in rows 23m apart to allow for 30 rows of vegetables in between. He has chosen a mixture of species, with oak and apple as the main species, interspersed with hornbeam, birch, cherry, maple and alder, all species that are growing naturally in the area. As well as fruit, these species can potentially provide firewood and timber, as well as support a range of other benefits such as reducing wind speeds and buffering extremes of temperature, improving soil structure and fertility (alder is a nitrogen-fixing species), and importantly, providing a diversity of structures and resources for a range of animals and plants. It is expected that most of these species will be beneficial to the system for example by pollinating crops, reducing pests, or helping breakdown organic matter, but it is also possible that some pests might increase, although, as elsewhere on the farm, it is likely that a balance will be found (Figure 2).
Figure 2: UK agroforestry system combining vegetables and trees.
One of the problems with establishing agroforestry is that the area beneath the trees is taken out of crop production immediately, with no returns from the trees for several years, if not decades. With Tolly’s system, this area equates to 15% out of vegetable production – quite a considerable loss. To counteract this, the plan is to make this understorey productive this autumn, by planting rhubarb in two tree rows, a selection of daffodils and narcissus for early cut flowers in another row (Figure 3), and a selection of herbaceous flowers for early summer cutting in a fourth tree row. As part of the AGFORWARD project (www.agforward.eu), the Organic Research Centre will monitor the progress of the system as it establishes and matures.
Figure 3: Planting daffodil bulbs in the tree row.
Source: Jo Smith (EURAF National Delegate for UK, Organic Research Centre, Elm Farm, Newbury, UK), May 2016.
More than 100 people participated in the “Stone Pine and Nuts” seminar that took place in the School of Agriculture (ISA), University of Lisbon, on March, 30th. It was organized by the Forest Research Centre (CEF) being part of a series of events to promote knowledge transfer to stakeholders. It was the first seminar dedicated to Stone pine where the ecology of the species as well as biotic risks and forest management topics were addressed. Landowners, forest managers, local administration and industry representatives provided valuable contributions to the panel's discussion with the topic of the insect outbreak, Leptoglossus occidentalis, being particularly relevant to the audience.
Figure 4: Seminar announcement and a participant reading the seminar book.
Antonio Jose Soares (Forest Research Centre, University of Lisbon, Portugal), April 2016.
The Heather-Farm (GAEC de la Brande in French) is an estate in Limousin in Central France. According to old documents and pictures, after the clearing of large forest areas in the Middle Ages, there were not many trees in the hilly landscape of that region until the 18th century. About three hundred years ago, under the pressure of a growing population, farmers started planting trees and hedges around every plot of land in order to produce fodder for cattle and sheep, fruit (mainly apple, pear and chestnut), firewood and timber. They created a new landscape with many trees but almost no forest. Until the 1960’s, hedges and trees were regularly pruned by farmers who often had a hard life on small estates. In the last fifty years, agriculture in Limousin progressively specialized in extensive cattle-rearing. Many trees were cut or uprooted and remaining hedges aren’t properly maintained. A high nature value landscape is disappearing.
Figure 5: Overview of the Heather-Farm.
The Heather-Farm was founded in 1974. Hervé, who grew up there, his wife Céline and a fulltime worker farm 164 hectares to produce organic beef. They breed 84 Limousin cows. Cattle graze across hectares of grassland and get hay or silage from meadows which undergo an accurate management. Furthermore, Hervé and Céline grow 34 hectares of wheat, rye, spelt, triticale and peas to feed 80 bullocks every year. Unlike most cattle-breeders in Limousin, they don’t produce corn silage and don’t buy any food for their livestock. The Heather-Farm aims at food self-sufficiency in order to be competitive as a producer of high-quality beef.
Trees and hedges are meant to support self-sufficiency too. Hervé always thought that they belong to modern agriculture. They don’t just protect cattle from sun in summer, rain and chilly northern wind in winter. They improve yield. They provide firewood and wood chips which replace straw in stables. That’s the reason why Hervé and Céline keep 25 kilometer (15 miles) of hedges on their farm. Oak, hornbeam, ash and holly are part of a gorgeous landscape which they enjoy every day.
Figure 6: Some pictures of the Heather-Farm.
Source: Source: Xavier Devaux (EURAF National Delegate for France, Chargé de mission Agriculture, Direction de l'Action Territoriale Pôle Développemen, France), May 2016.
The 3rd European Agroforestry Conference “Celebrating 20 years of Agroforestry research in Europe” took place in Montpellier (France) between 23rd and 25th May 2016. The conference was excellently organized by the team of Christian Dupraz from INRA, the French Agroforestry Association (AFAF) and EURAF and brought together researchers and farmers keen on agroforestry from all over Europe. Representatives of the European Commission, ICRAF, the Temperate Agroforestry Federation and were also present during the Conference. The Conference also counted with delegations from China, Canada and USA.
Figure 7: Christian Dupraz with some people in charged of the conference organisation.
The opening of the conference was carried out by María Rosa Mosquera-Losada, President of EURAF, in which also participated Stéphane Le Foll, France’s Minister of Agriculture. In her presentation, María Rosa Mosquera-Losada, explained the main advantages of the agroforestry systems as a way of sustainable land management because the agroforestry systems allow a more efficient use of the resources such as light, water and nutrients compared to the exclusively agronomic and forest systems. María Rosa Mosquera-Losada also noted that the presence of woody components in the systems, trees or shrubs, contribute to increased soil carbon sequestration, being this aspect very important in the context of climate change. This explains the high interest that the agroforestry systems have shown in forums such as the FAO, the Global Research Alliance and the Global Alliance for a Climate-Smart Agriculture.
Figure 8: On the left María Rosa Mosquera-Losada (EURAF President) with Stéphane Le Foll (France’s Minister of Agriculture) under the watchful eye of a member of the European Commission. On the right María Rosa Mosquera-Losada (EURAF President) and Gerry Lawson (EURAF Deputy President) with Stéphane Le Foll (France’s Minister of Agriculture) under the watchful eye of the 5 times University Doctor honoris causa Mr. PK Nair.
María Rosa Mosquera-Losada also indicated the intense work carried out within the AGFORWARD project which allows to identify the areas of Europe in which we can find established agroforestry systems. On the other hand, the EURAF President highlighted that EURAF is constituted for 20 EU Member States and that EURAF has actively participated in the evaluation and the proposal for amendment of the CAP for the promotion of agroforestry. EURAF meets regularly with members of the European Commission and Parliament through its participation in the Civil Dialogue Groups of the European Commission (CAP, Direct Payments and Greening, Rural Development, Organic farming, Forestry and Cork, Environment and Climate Change and Arable Crops), the European Network for Rural Development and the European Structural and Investment Funds Network. María Rosa Mosquera-Losada concluded her presentation requesting an European Agroforestry Strategy.
The France’s Minister of Agriculture, Stéphane Le Foll, defender of the agroforestry systems, noted the role of the agroforestry systems in the context of the agroecology and the fight against climate change, emphasizing the importance of the agroforestry systems in the framework of the initiative 4 per 1000 presented in the COP21. In the COP21, held last December in Paris, more than one hundred countries reached an agreement to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 2˚C above pre-industrial levels and if possible below 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels.
Figure 9: Stéphane Le Foll (France’s Minister of Agriculture) with the conference organizer (Christian Dupraz), the President of the French Agroforestry Association (Alain Canet), the EURAF President (María Rosa Mosquera-Losada) and some members of the European Commission during the lunch held after the inaugural session of the 3rd European Agroforestry Conference to discuss the future European Agroforestry Strategy in the framework of the CAP and the contribution of these systems such as sustainable management practices to be used in the fight against climate change.
On the other hand, the first day of the conference, several scientific sessions took place: "Development of agroforestry: farmer's perceptions, barriers and incentives", "Environmental benefits of agroforestry", "Innovations in agroforestry" and "Productivity and economic performances of agroforestry". The second day, the participants in the conference enjoyed in different field tours organized by the INRA team: "Agroforestry research at Restinclières Estate", “Vegetable gardening agroforestry area and silvopastoralism” and “Silvopasture, alley cropping and vegetable agroforestry: the west triangle”. The last day of the conference, four scientific sessions were carried out in the morning: "Farmers testimony across Europe", "Tree-crop competition and facilitation", "Agroforestry and climate change" and "Agroforestry products: quantity, quality and diversity" and four more scientific sessions in the afternoon: "How to assess the performance of agroforestry systems?", "Updates on agroforestry policies across Europe", "Silvopastoralism" and "Agroforestry modelling".
Figure 10: Some pictures taken during the 3rd European Agroforestry Conference.
During the conference some works were presented as posters in the poster sessions and two EURAF prizes for best posters were awarded. The winners got their registration fees reimbursed and received some key books on agroforestry.
Figure 11: Winners of the EURAF prizes for best posters.
On May 26th,after the conference, the French Agroforestry Association AFAF organised an optional field tour in the Toulouse area (south-western part of France). The 60+ participants in this event got the chance to visit some of France's most innovative commercial agroforestry farms (two arable farms and a mixed crop-livestock farm) and meet the farmers. This event was carried out in the action area of the multi-partner Agr'eau Programme managed by AFAF and co-funded by the local Water Agency. A locally made, agroforestry buffet was offered during lunch, enabling participants to experience French agroforestry from the field to the plate.
Figure 12: field tour in the Toulouse area organised by the French Agroforestry Association (AFAF).
María Rosa Mosquera-Losada (EURAF President) and Nuria Ferreiro-Domínguez (University of Santiago de Compostela), May 2016.
The European Commission is looking for experts for the Focus Group on Agroforestry under the EIP-Agriculture. The deadline is 11th July 2016. The first meeting of the Focus Group is scheduled for the 30th of November and the 1st of December. More info here.
Agroforestry in Action Webinar Series
The Agroforestry in Action Webinar Series is a production of the Center for Agroforestry at the University of Missouri. Presentations in this webinar series explore topics in agroforestry from North America and around the globe, showcasing examples of excellence in practice and research. Live webinars are presented on a monthly basis and are free and open to all. Please see the live webinar schedule and register well in advance to participate.
A new module on Agroforestry has just been added to the FAO Sustainable Forest Management Toolbox
In addition to an overview of Agroforestry, the module contains tools, case studies and further reading that FAO hopes will be useful to the different stakeholders dealing with agroforestry issues. The module is intended to be a living document and FAO would greatly appreciate any comments you might have on the text, still more important are new case studies, tools and new publications that you would like to contribute with. More info Simone [dot] Borelli [at] fao [dot] org (here).
V Meeting of the Working Group on Agroforestry Systems of the Spanish Society of Forest Sciences (SECF): “Agroforestry systems: sustainability and advances in silvoarable and silvopastoral systems”
On 21st -22nd June will take place in Solsona (Lleida, Spain) the V Meeting of the Working Group on Agroforestry Systems of the Spanish Society of Forest Sciences (SECF), under the theme “Agroforestry systems: sustainability and advances in silvoarable and silvopastoral systems”. This meeting aims at exchanging information on the last legal, organizational and knowledge outcomes related to the agroforestry systems, with a particular focus on Spain. This meeting will host representatives from the public administrations, private companies, researchers, managers and practitioners. The event will also witness the first meeting of the Spanish Agroforestry Association (AGFE). This meeting is organized by the Forest Sciences Centre of Catalonia (CTFC), Forest Ownership Centre of Catalonia (CPF) and the Spanish Society of Forest Sciences (SECF). More info here.
12th European IFSA (International Farming Systems Association) Symposium
The 12th European IFSA Symposium will take place at Harper Adams University, Shropshire, UK, during 12th – 15th July 2016. The theme of the Symposium will be "Social and technological transformation of farming systems: Diverging and converging pathways". More info here.
EcoSummit 2016, Ecological Sustainability: Engineering Change
The 5th International EcoSummit Congress will take place at The Corum Convention Center, Montpellier, France, during 29th August – 1st September 2016. More info here.
World Congress Silvo-Pastoral Systems 2016
The World Congress Silvo-Pastoral Systems 2016 will take place in Évora, Portugal during 27th – 30th September 2016. The theme of the Congress will be “Silvo-Pastoral Systems in a changing world: functions, management and people”. More info here.
14th European Rural Development Network Conference
The 14th European Rural Development Network Conference will take place in Budapest, Hungary during 3rd – 5th October 2016. The focus of the conference will be on successful farms, rural innovation and its impacts, agri-food chains and related environmental, policy and knowledge sharing issues. The conference programme will also include a workshop of the EU FP7 VALERIE project (‘Valorizing European Research for Innovation in Agriculture and Forestry’). More info here.
This is your newsletter! If there’s anything you think should be included, please send suggestions to euraf [at] agroforestry [dot] eu (euraf [at] agroforestry [dot] eu) for the next issue.
This newsletter is carried out in collaboration with the European AGFORWARD Project.
Editors-In-Chief: Nuria Ferreiro-Domínguez and María Rosa Mosquera-Losada
Editorial Committee: Rosa Mosquera-Losada, Gerry Lawson, Joana Amaral Paulo, Anastasia Pantera, Fabien Balaguer, Jeroen Watté, Bert Reubens, Olivier Baudry, Bohdan Lojka, Alain Canet, Xavier Devaux, Norbert Lamersdorf, Heinrich Spiecker, Konstantinos Mantzanas, Andrea Vityi, Andrea Pisanelli, Adolfo Rosati, Sami Kryeziu, Robert Borek, João Palma, Josep Crous Duran, Gerardo Moreno, Johanna Björklund, Felix Herzog, Mareike Jäger, Mark Vonk, Emiel Anssems, Jo Smith, Mike Strachan, Nuria Ferreiro-Domínguez, Mercedes Rois-Díaz.
English Reviewer: Mercedes Rois-Díaz
This Newsletter is edited in Lugo (Spain) by EURAF (ISSN 2445-2556)
- Towards 50% of farmers using agroforestry by 2025 -