Agroforestry and Silvopastoral Systems
HAVE YOU NOTICED the number of trees throughout the agricultural land in Highland Perthshire? It’s one of the benefits of the heart of Scotland and forms part of our cultural heritage. Agricultural land-use that combines crops and/or animals with trees is known as agroforestry.
Agroforestry can be subdivided into silvoarable systems (crops and trees) or silvopastoral systems (animals and trees). Historic examples of ancient woodland pasture can be found within the Breadalbane area and are early examples of silvopastoral systems.
Trees on farms provide shelter for livestock, landscape improvements, recreational opportunities, wildlife habitats, and timber products that can diversify farming income.
The recent consultation on the Rural Development Regulations has sparked renewed interest with regards to agroforestry throughout the European Union. As a result, the Council Regulations state “support shall be granted to farmers for agroforestry systems combining extensive agriculture and forestry systems”.
In order to gain knowledge and encourage interest in silvopastoral systems, a visit is being planned for the BIFF board and interested farmers and landowners to the Glensaugh Research Station’s agroforestry scheme for the end of August.
Located 30 miles south-west of Aberdeen, Glensaugh began the silvopastoral experiment in 1988 with the assistance of Forest Research. Various densities of sycamore, hybrid larch and Scots pine were planted on permanent sheep-grazed pasture.
This research site has provided important information about the impacts of planting density and tree species on agricultural production, tree development and environmental impacts. The results of the trial are generally positive and demonstrate that sustainable productivity and environmental benefits can make silvopastoral systems an attractive development for grazed permanent pastures.
Following the Glensaugh visit, members of the Forestry Commission and SEERAD will be going to Northern Ireland in September to investigate the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s experiences with agroforestry. Silvopastoral systems in Northern Ireland focus mainly on ash planted in grazed pasture and the positive results of these trials will assist Scotland’s Government departments in developing similar systems in the Breadalbane area.
BIFF supports agroforestry and has recently submitted responses to consultation documents in support of the EU Council Regulation. BIFF will be pursuing a new pilot grant scheme for silvopastoral systems in the near future.
If you are interested in learning more about agroforestry a Silvopastoral Agroforestry Toolbox was developed by Alan Sibbald of the Macaulay Institute and can be found at www.macaulay.ac.uk/agfor_toolbox.
For more details on Glensaugh, or for information on any topics relating to farming and forestry, please contact Chris Stark at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on 01738 602043.