Agroforestry Comes of Age?

It’s about 30 years since the first alley-cropping agroforestry started to be planted in the UK.

30 years ago planting trees in lines into a wheat field was regarded as eccentric and even foolish (certainly by the farming establishment). But it’s now nearly mainstream to plant agroforestry (though with wider alleys).

In its 2023 Carbon Budget Delivery Plan (the climate change policy document which tells us how the UK will reach Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050), the UK Government has committed to 10% of UK arable land being agroforestry by 2050 – see here.

That will be a big change in the landscape and to farming: lots of carbon dioxide sequestered and lots of new habitats. It would be even better with a higher target.

Anyway, to help make that happen, DEFRA (in England) is promising payments – under its new Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) subsidies scheme – of up to £849 per hectare for farmers who maintain agroforestry – see here. That’s much better than the old way of paying farmers a flat rate of about £250 per hectare regardless of what they chose to grow (or not).