Bodemkundige Dienst van België





An economically profitable answer to the demand for agro ecological production methods

Agroforestry offers many opportunities to enhance farm resilience and respond to future challenges in Flemish (and West European) agriculture. Some examples are diversification in production and supplying a wide range of ecosystem services. Economically speaking, the expected increase in demand for biomass and high-quality wood products may make agroforestry a shock-proof investment for farmers. Agroforestry potentially meets the social demand for eco-efficient agro-ecological production methods while being economically profitable.

Nevertheless, experience with agroforestry in Flanders is very limited. In addition to stumbling blocks regarding legal and administration issues, many technical, organizational and economical questions remain unanswered.

With this project we aim to increase the opportunities for agroforestry in Flanders, through (1) an integrated collaboration throughout the entire chain of stakeholders, (2) co-development of research knowledge and practical experience, and (3) provision of solutions and guidance for the target group.
We primarily focus on the soil-bound agricultural sector, but we also include other stakeholders such as tree nurseries and wood and biomass processing plants.

The overall project objective is to create a breakthrough in a relatively short time of feasible, profitable and effective agroforestry systems in Flanders. This will be realized by conducting a participatory process with relevant stakeholders, fueled both by in-depth research and effective dissemination of knowledge and experience.

More specific objectives are:

  • Evaluating opportunities for various agroforestry systems in Flanders;
  • Increasing knowledge of ecological interactions, ecosystem services, technical impact and especially economic opportunities for a selection of agroforestry systems relevant to the Flemish agricultural context;
  • Obtaining an increased understanding of intention, attitude, norms, perception and social identity of those involved, to overcome the psychological and social barriers to agroforestry adoption;
  • Providing decision support guidelines, practical suggestions and innovative solutions to farming enterprises with regard to the application of agroforestry;
  • Encouraging and assisting stakeholders in the implementation of agroforestry measures, adapted to a given set of farming and environmental conditions. This responds to the current demand for well-founded support for farmers having a specific demand for transition towards the application of agroforestry. With this project we therefore not only aim for a change in attitude but also effective adoption.

In this project, a participatory course is followed, through which co-development, consultation of stakeholders, transdisciplinary guidance of practitioners and capture of grassroot ideas are enabled. As such the project aims at maximizing the relevance and validity of the knowledge and experience gained and disseminated. This participatory course runs through the entire project with regular feedback to and from other work packages.

Major outputs of the project are the development of an online knowledge platform, a practical guide and an integrated decision support tool.

Project duration: September 2014 – August 2019
Project coordinator: Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (ILVO)
Other partners: Ghent University, Belgian Pedological Service, Inagro and Agrobeheercentrum Eco²

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