Recent years have seen drastic changes in the structure of Polish agriculture. More than one million farms have disappeared and the main production focus has changed. The share of farms with animal production and mixed production has decreased significantly. Livestock-free farms now dominate, accounting for more than half of all farms in Poland. This is due to the low profitability of animal husbandry in agriculture and the high labour input. Livestock production has withdrawn particularly from small farms. The consequence of this process is a decrease in the organic matter content of soils, a negative balance of plant nutrients and a reduction in crop diversity with a pronounced dominance of cereals. Non-livestock farms are attempting to compensate by growing intercrops and leaving crop residues in the field. However, domesticated animals were also important in the use of perennial forage crops and permanent grassland important for CO2 sequestration.

Due to the intensification of agriculture and transition to monoculture plantations, vast areas of native woodland have been lost from the Irish landscape. As these trees gradually vanished from agricultural land, the use of traditional, ancient agroforestry practices dwindled. Currently, forestry cover in Ireland is 25% lower than the European average, with the rate of afforestation remaining critically low. Agroforestry has been cited as a means to increase forestry cover in Ireland while continuing to produce viable high quality agricultural products on the same parcel of land. However, even with a range of afforestation schemes available, farmers exhibit an evident reluctance to adopt agroforestry. This research aimed to examine the main attitudes and perceptions of Irish dairy and drystock farmers to planting trees on their land and adopting agroforestry practices. The majority of farmers included within the dataset exhibited a positive attitude towards trees on their farms, with the main negative behavioural beliefs relating to impacts on pasture. Family and Teagasc (The Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority) are the highest cited influential bodies while the majority of farmers exhibit high perceived behavioural control. Intention rates to plant trees are high, albeit mainly on marginal areas of the farm. Agroforestry knowledge is low in Ireland with the word itself eliciting negative responses amongst the farming community. The results provide a comprehensive understanding of the main attitudes, influential bodies and barriers that affect agroforestry uptake in Ireland.

The article shortly describes the main types of agro-forestry, and provide some example through European cases of the species and productivity in agro-forestry systems.
Management structures of agro-forestry was published in “Agro-Erdészeti Jegyzetek” Nr. 3, 2006. Szeptember issue edited by the “Dunántúli Mezőgazdasági Szaktanácsadók Szövetsége” (
It can be found on platform:

This paper summarises a review of literature on the sustainability of a specific mixed farming system i.e. the integration of laying hens into organic agricultural systems. The major findings are:

1) the integrated system contributes to the reduction of inputs (less feed and fertilizers) and a diversified production;
2) it supports ecosystem services shaping the landscape toward biodiversity and contributing to a healthier environment;
and 3) it improves farmers’ livelihood, especially in developing countries.
The authors suggest that its benefits will be increased by using mobile systems to ensure a better distribution of manure and in synchronization with canopy cover species, such as fruit and forest trees.

Climate and management effects on the herbaceous layer productivity of a cork oak woodland by M. C. Bicho, A. C. Correia, A. R. Rodrigues, J. Soares David & F. Costa-e-Silva. Agroforestry Systems volume 96, pages 315–327 (2022)

This paper reports on research carried out in a certified cork oak ecosystem with a moderate tree density in central Portugal. Eight years of data on meteorological variables and herbaceous biomass productivity were analysed to investigate how understorey herbaceous biomass is affected by inter annual and seasonal climate variability. Key findings were:
1) Herbaceous biomass productivity was on average 8 times higher in an understorey of improved pasture, grazed by cattle, than in the natural vegetation understorey, most likely due to the positive effects of the initial fertilization and the legume rich seed composition which increased N soil availability.
2) The main climatic driver explaining the biomass productivity was the cumulative precipitation from February to May.
3) The proportion of grasses increased in response to drought with a pronounce decrease in legumes, regardless of the management system.
4) The natural vegetation understorey system was more resilient to drought compared to the improved pasture understorey, suggesting a need to better understand the role and contribution of each native species to resistance, resilience and recovery to drought in order to improve future forage mixtures.
The authors conclude that these results may support better management decisions by forest producers which are mostly based on empirical procedures and might provide some directions for further studies.

The very actual topic by Kovács Klaudia, Vityi Andrea and Szalay Dóra was published in 2019 in the journal “Actual social and economic processes” in Hungarian about agroforestry potentials in satisfying wood demands and embed to forestry practices.

"The growing demand for wood has put growing pressure on forest management. The useof agroforestry practices can also play a significant role in the future by improving the quantitativeand qualitative parameters of dendromass yields from wooded areas. Intermediate cultivation in foreststands is a traditional practice in the Carpathian Basin. Domestic experiences and test results confirmthe positive effect of this practice on the soil microclimate and on the growth parameters of the treestands, which can significantly affect the success of forest regeneration. At the same time, by utilizingthe free space for other purposes (fodder production, ecosystem services), renovation is coupled withresource efficiency and economic benefits."

In response to worsening wildfires in the Mediterranean as a result of climate change, this study investigates the impact of sheep grazing on silvopastoral land in Spain. The goal of this study was to quantify and clarify the effect of fuelbreak grazing on ground cover and growth of holm oak saplings. The paper also reports on how the grazing impacted herbage biomass and species composition. The data was collected over the course of three consecutive years, which allowed the researchers to observe the impact of climatic changes on grazing.

This study compares the carbon storage of soil in a silvopastoral system and a treeless pasture in Spain. Carbon quantity in silvopastoral soil was measured under two species of trees: Radiata pine (Pinus radiata D. Don) and Birch (Betula pendula Roth). The amount of carbon was measured at different soil depths. The researchers found that there was significantly more carbon stored in the soil under both types of trees in the silvopastoral areas as compared to the treeless pasture. The results of this study indicate that silvopastoral systems, systems in which trees are planted on agricultural land, promote longer-term storage of carbon in the soil as opposed to conventional agricultural systems.

The traditional poplar cultivation does not represent the only way to produce poplar wood: new market opportunities and new more sustainable cultivation models are appearing on the international scene. We are only reconsidering past solutions in a modern key and with new knowledges and technologies able to improve the productions through more sustainable, resilient, cultivation models for the adaptation to climate and market changes. In this note three alternative models (to traditional poplar growth)
suitable for production of plywood, packaging, panels, pulp for paper, biomass and for environment services, are described and discussed: high-density model (HD), polycyclic plantation model (PP) and agroforestry (AF).

In recent decades, in some European countries (Italy,France, Spain) and North America, many mixed-tree
farming plantations have been established with walnut Juglans spp.), poplar (Populus spp.) and other valuable broadleaved species combined with nurse species, mainly N-fixing trees or shrubs (e.g. Alnus spp., Robinia pseudoacacia L. and Elaeagnus spp.). With the introduction of short rotation coppice (SRC) models in such mixed plantations (Morhart et al., 2014) it is possible to grow noble hardwood
species for high quality timber production with fast growing species for energy purposes, having the advantage of a periodical income from the harvest of SRC.In Italy, these so called “polycyclic plantations” (PP)cover about 400 ha, mainly in northern Italy, and have been defined as tree farming plantations where main crop trees with different cultivation cycles coexist in the same plantation (. In such plantations, at least two types of the following kinds of crop trees must be present: (1) very-short-rotation crop trees for biomass and energy production, with the advantage of a periodical
income (SRCs); (2) short-rotation crop trees for plywood production (poplar clones); and (3) medium-long-rotation crop trees for valuable timber production (walnut, oak or other valuable broadleaved species). Crop trees are intercropped with nurse trees or shrubs (often N-fixing species) and with tree species playing a double role of nurse for main crop trees and production of biomass for energy purposes. Significant benefits, in terms of productivity and ecosystem services, have been shown by using N-fixing trees and non-N-fixing trees.


Dr. Sara Burbi - Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience - Coventry University, Ryton Gardens Campus, CV8 LG, UK
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