Agroforestry has been proposed as a sustainable agricultural system over conventional agriculture and forestry, conserving biodiversity and enhancing ecosystem service provision while not compromising productivity. However, the available evidence for the societal benefits of agroforestry is fragmented and does often not integrate diverse ecosystem services into the assessment. To upscale existing case-study insights to the European level, we conducted a meta-analysis on the effects of agroforestry on ecosystem service provision and on biodiversity levels. From 53 publications we extracted a total of 365 comparisons that were selected for the meta-analysis. Results revealed an overall positive effect of agroforestry (effect size=0.454, p<0.01) over conventional agriculture and forestry. However, results were heterogeneous, with differences among the types of agroforestry practices and ecosystem services assessed. Erosion control, biodiversity, and soil fertility are enhanced by agroforestry while there is no clear effect on provisioning services. The effect of agroforestry on biomass production is negative. Comparisons between agroforestry types and reference land-uses showed that both silvopastoral and silvoarable systems increase ecosystem service provision and biodiversity, especially when compared with forestry land. Mediterranean tree plantation systems should be especially targeted as soil erosion could be highly reduced while soil fertility increased. We conclude that agroforestry can enhance biodiversity and ecosystem service provision relative to conventional agriculture and forestry in Europe and could be a strategically beneficial land use in rural planning if its inherent complexity is considered in policy measures.
Summary1. Ecosystems have a critical role in regulating climate, and soil, water and air quality, but management to change an ecosystem process in support of one regulating ecosystem service can either provide co-benefits to other services or can result in trade-offs. 2. We examine the role of ecosystems in delivering these regulating ecosystem services, using the UK as our case study region. We identify some of the main co-benefits and trade-offs of ecosystem management within, and across, the regulating services of climate regulation, and soil, water and air quality regulation, and where relevant, we also describe interactions with other ecosystem services. Our analysis clearly identifies the many important linkages between these different ecosystem services. 3. However, soil, water and air quality regulation are often governed by different legislation or are under the jurisdiction of different regulators, which can make optimal management difficult to identify and to implement. Policies and legislation addressing air, water and soil are sometimes disconnected, with no integrated overview of how these policies interact. This can lead to conflicting messages regarding the use and management of soil, water and air. Similarly, climate change legislation is separate from that aiming to protect and enhance soil, water and air quality, leading to further potential for policy conflict. 4. All regulating services, even if they are synergistic, may trade off against other ecosystem services. At a policy level, this may well be the biggest conflict. The fact that even individual regulating services comprise multiple and contrasting indicators (e.g. the various components of water quality such as nutrient levels, acidity, pathogens and sediments), adds to the complexity of the challenge. 5. Synthesis and applications. We conclude that although there are some good examples of integrated ecosystem management, some aspects of ecosystem management could be better coordinated to deliver multiple ecosystem services, and that an ecosystem services framework to assess co-benefits and trade-offs would help regulators, policy-makers and ecosystem managers to deliver more coherent ecosystem management strategies. In this way, an ecosystem services framework may improve the regulation of climate, and soil, water and air quality, even in the absence of economic valuation of the individual services.
Silvoarable agroforestry could promote use of trees on farms in Europe, but its likely effect on production, farm profitability, and environmental services is poorly understood. Hence, from 2001 to 2005, the Silvoarable Agroforestry for Europe project developed a systematic process to evaluate the biophysical and economic performance of arable, forestry, and silvoarable systems in Spain, France, and The Netherlands. A biophysical model called "Yield-SAFE" was developed to predict long-term yields for the different systems and local statistics and expert opinion were used to derive their revenue, costs, and pre-and post-2005 grant regimes. These data were then used in an economic model called "Farm-SAFE" to predict plot-and farm-scale profitability. Land equivalent ratios were greater than one, showing Yield-SAFE predicted that growing trees and crops in silvoarable systems was more productive than growing them separately. Pre-2005 grants in Spain and The Netherlands penalised silvoarable systems, but post-2005 grants were more equitable. In France, walnut and poplar silvoarable systems were consistently the most profitable system under both grant regimes. In Spain, holm oak and stone pine silvoarable systems were the least profitable system under pre-2005 grants, but only marginally less profitable than arable systems under post-2005 grants. In The Netherlands, low timber values and the opportunity cost of losing arable land for slurry manure application made silvoarable and forestry systems uncompetitive with arable systems under both grant regimes.
Yield-SAFE: a parameter-sparse process-based dynamic model for predicting resource capture, growth and production in agroforestry systems. Ecological Engineering 29: 419-433.
Land use systems that integrate woody vegetation with livestock and/or crops and are recognised for their biodiversity and cultural importance can be termed high nature and cultural value (HNCV) agroforestry. In this review, based on the literature and stakeholder knowledge, we describe the structure, components and management practices of ten contrasting HNCV agroforestry systems distributed across five European bioclimatic regions. We also compile and categorize the ecosystem services provided by these agroforestry systems, following the Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services. HNCV agroforestry in Europe generally enhances biodiversity and regulating ecosystem services relative to conventional agriculture and forestry. These systems can reduce fire risk, compared to conventional forestry, and can increase carbon sequestration, moderate the microclimate, and reduce soil erosion and nutrient leaching compared to conventional agriculture. However, some of the evidence is location specific and a better geographical coverage is needed to generalize patterns at broader scales. Although some traditional practices and products have been abandoned, many of the studied systems continue to provide multiple woody and non
Increased adoption of silvoarable agroforestry (SAF) systems in Europe, by integrating trees and arable crops on the same land, could offer a range of environmental benefits compared with conventional agricultural systems. Soil erosion, nitrogen leaching, carbon sequestration and landscape biodiversity were chosen as indicators to assess a stratified random sample of 19 landscape test sites in the Mediterranean and Atlantic regions of Europe. At each site, the effect of introducing agroforestry was examined at plot-scale by simulating the growth of one of five tree species (hybrid walnut Juglans spp., wild cherry Prunus avium L., poplar Populus spp., holm oak Quercus ilex L. subsp. ilex and stone pine Pinus pinea L.) at two tree densities (50 and 113 trees ha-1) in combination with up to five crops (wheat Triticum spp., sunflower Helianthus annuus L., oilseed rape Brassica napus L., grain maize and silage maize Zea mays L.). At landscape-scale, the effect of introducing agroforestry on 10 or 50% of the agricultural area, on either the best or worst quality land, was examined. Across the 19 landscape test sites, SAF had a positive impact on the four indicators with the strongest effects when introduced on the best quality land. The computer simulations showed that SAF could significantly reduce erosion by up to 65% when combined with contouring practices at medium (> 0.5 and < 3 t ha-1 a-1) and high (> 3 t ha-1 a-1) erosion sites. Nitrogen leaching could be reduced by up to 28% in areas where leaching is currently estimated high (>100 kg N ha-1 a-1), but this was dependent on tree density. With agroforestry, predicted mean carbon sequestration through immobilization in trees, over a 60year period, ranged from 0.1 to 3.0 t C ha-1 a-1 (5 to 179 t C ha-1) depending on tree species and location. Landscape biodiversity was increased by introducing SAF by an average factor of 2.6. The implications of this potential for environmental benefits at European scale are discussed.
Crop rotations are allocations by growers of crop types to specific fields through time. This paper aims at presenting i) a systematic and rigorous mathematical representation of crops rotations; and ii) a concise mathematical framework to model crop rotations, which is useable on landscape scale modelling of agronomical practices. Rotations can be defined as temporal arrangements of crops and can be classified systematically according to their internal variability and cyclical pattern. Crop sequences in a rotation can be quantified as a transition matrix, with the Markovian property that the allocation in a given year depends on the crop allocated in the previous year. Such transition matrices can represent stochastic processes and thus facilitate modelling uncertainty in rotations, and forecasting of the long-term proportions of each crop in a rotation, such as changes in climate or economics. The matrices also permit modelling transitions between rotations due to external variables. Computer software was developed that incorporates these techniques and was used to simulate landscapescale agronomic processes over decadal periods.
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