Agroforestry at Dartington
What is agroforestry?
The Agroforestry Research Trust, based on our estate, defines agroforestry as ‘…the growing of both trees and agricultural/ horticultural crops on the same piece of land. It is designed to provide tree and other crop products and at the same time protect, conserve, diversify and sustain vital economic, environmental, human and natural resources.
‘It differs from traditional forestry and agriculture by its focus on the interactions amoungst components rather than just on the individual components themselves.’
Why do we do it?
Agroforestry increases the overall resilience of our estate. It can provide us with fruit, nuts, timber, biomass and animal fodder in the same space as other crops, increasing the overall yield from the land, and fosters biodiversity through the creation of habitats and food sources. It also builds the economic resilience of farms, as they’re able to farm their land vertically as well as horizontally.
More trees on the landscape also help improve the soil health of the estate, reducing erosion rates, building up soil organic matter and sequestering carbon, as well as helping manage water more effectively as it moves through the landscape.
Agroforestry in practice
At Dartington, our pioneering Broadlears Field project – see below – brings together several food producers in one field, and is establishing a compelling new model for how agroforestry might work in practice in the UK.
Our estate has played host to The Agroforestry Research Trust for some years, and encouraging a wider uptake of agroforestry on the estate became one of our priorities as part of our Land Use Review. In addition to our Broadlears project partners, there are now two further organisations joining us in practicing agroforestry on the estate: our own Schumacher College and Huxhams Cross Farm.
Latest agroforestry blogs
The latest update on our silvopasture experiment, where trees are planted along with animals. Which tree guard will survive the attentions of our all-consuming goat population?
After our Broadlears adventure in silvoarable – and the general take off of agroforestry across the estate – the one area we’ve wanted to focus on next is silvopasture: the art of planting trees in with – and often for the benefit of – animals.
As part of our Broadlears agroforestry project, we’ve been trying to monitor the impact of the trees on the field’s biodiversity – and our amazing team of Conservation volunteers have once again come to the rescue.