Good practices in agroforestry - Field day in the Arboretum of Sárvár, Hungary

In the framework of the AGROMIX (Horizon 2020) project, CEEweb for Biodiversity organised a field day on agroforestry entitled "Good practices in agroforestry" on 9 August in the Arboretum of Sárvár.

Presentation of the AGROMIX project

The first presentation was given by Ádám Varga (CEEweb), who introduced the AGROMIX project, the project's policy work package, sharing the results of previous events and the lessons learned from the first round of policy workshops. The experience from the first workshops has shown the need for events that focus on discussions between farmers, decision makers and other stakeholders and on raising awareness on the benefits of agroforestry practices. In addition to the theoretical background, it is important to present practical examples that can help to implement agroforestry solutions. This provided the basis for the second workshop, which ultimately focused on a practice-oriented approach.

Good practices in agroforestry - theory

In the rest of the morning, forestry expert Attila Borovics PhD spoke about traditional, ancient and holistic approaches to agroforestry, drawing on examples from abroad, mainly from India and South America. He stressed the need to re-evaluate the possibilities, combining traditional methods and current capabilities with modern solutions, such as mechanisation and the development of a market for the products. Climate mitigation, soil protection and biodiversity conservation objectives and functions are essential for the uptake of modern agroforestry systems. For long-term planning, it would be important to complement subsidy-driven decision-making with consideration of sustainability objectives. The speaker presented SiteViewer, a forestry decision support application developed by the University of Sopron's Institute of Forestry Science for climate change adaptation.

Among the issues raised during the presentation were the damage to crops by rare species or game that are attracted by newly introduced shelterbelts. The importance of compensation by the sector concerned was discussed as a solution; in the case of game, the game keeper should be responsible for the damage, and in the case of protected species, the relevant conservation body should be responsible, so that the farmer does not have to bear all the damage.

The limitations of the machinery and infrastructure currently available to farmers were also raised. It was pointed out that many modern agroforestry systems are able to accommodate large pieces of existing machinery, not necessarily specialised. 

Finally, the high rate of land renting in Hungary and the higher openness of small and medium farmers to the subject compared to large farmers was discussed. Here too, it would be essential to find appropriate solutions, i.e. to target non-renting and small/medium farmers in the first instance. The latter has also highlighted the social issues, in addition to the economic, technological and awareness-raising shortcomings that have arisen in the introduction of agroforestry.

Good practices in agroforestry – on the field

During the afternoon field tour, the experimental plantations were visited in the Bajti Experimental Nursery - intercropping with hybrid poplar, sorrel, myrtle, ribwort plantain, bee pasture., and a hybrid poplar energy plantation.

At the end of the field day, the participants were given an insight into the practice of sustainable forest management concerning climate change and genetic diversity, which is highly linked to the topic; in a hornbeam-oak forest of the Farkas forest in Sárvár.

The event is considered successful, as further progress in agroforestry is expected in the future with the participation of and dialogue between several sectors. The project consortium will submit a white paper based on the project's policy work package during "AGROMIX summit" next year.

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