Increasing adoption of agroforestry in the UK
Only 3.3% of land cover is currently used for agroforestry in the UK. Given the UK Government aim of carbon neutrality by 2050, a crisis in nature, and a lack of resilience in farming systems, uptake of agroforestry by farmers needs to be increased considerably. A systematic review was conducted as part of the Defra-funded Agroforestry ELM Test project to determine what is holding farmers back from adopting agroforestry and what can be done to encourage them to plant trees on their land. The project team (Organic Research Centre, Woodland Trust, Soil Association, and Abacus Agriculture) is tasked with providing information to government on preferred farmer payment mechanisms and advice and guidance options for the delivery of agroforestry post-Brexit. This policy brief summarises the review results and outlines three key policy recommendations (ten surveys and reviews on farmer attitudes to agroforestry published over the last 10 years were examined and 35 potential incentives/disincentives to adoption were extracted).
Findings & recommendations
- The review ‘Incentives and disincentives to the adoption of agroforestry by UK farmers’ can be accessed here.
- The top ten incentives/disincentives to UK farmers adopting agroforestry are outlined in this briefing, with factors such as management and maintenance costs and access to case studies and demo farms included, and a lack of conceptual understanding and knowledge of agroforestry being ranked the highest.
- Knowledge of the practice of agroforestry is very low amongst UK farmers. There must be a substantial investment in agroforestry farm advisory services to help facilitate an increase in the adoption of agroforestry.
- Farmers consider agroforestry an activity with multiple, long-term costs and find current payment mechanisms inadequate. Payment mechanisms for agroforestry need to reflect the long-term nature of the commitment.
- Inclusion of a specific standard for agroforestry in the post-Brexit payment system would make it clear what is required of farmers and how they are to be paid for it.