Monday, March 4, 2019

Agroforestry Practices

At the CCRES Research Facility, we are working with farmers who are converting their working farmland into  agroforestry operations. The CCRES Program addresses the need to better understand and implement  agroforestry practices on a commercial scale. As these operations grow, so too will the need for industrial infrastructure and support.

At our case study, we are collecting crucial data concerning the economic, ecological and social impact of agroforestry in Croatia. Over the coming years, through the collection of real-world data and the establishment of industry relationships, we will be building a strong case in favor of widespread agroforestry.

With the help of these dedicated and pioneering farmers, we will be better positioned to demonstrate the viability of agroforestry as an alternative to current  practices. If you are a farmer, land owner or institution and would like to take part in this important effort, you have come to the right place.

Agroforestry refers to the planting of trees on areas in agricultural use. This form of dual use offers numerous advantages for the environment: Trees absorb carbon from the atmosphere and thus act as CO₂ stores. They offer habitats for animals and thus increase biodiversity, which strengthens the natural resilience of the cultivation area. They also protect fields from ground erosion and reduce discharge of nutrients and pesticides into groundwater and surface water.

Agroforestry was common in Croatia over centuries and characterized the landscape in many places. It serves primarily for fruit production, which is nurtured this way alongside cattle-​rearing, arable farming and vegetable production. Since the 1970s, however, the number of trees in agricultural areas has fallen dramatically. Due to financial strains and cultivation techniques, more and more farms shifted away from agroforestry. Since the 2016, Croatian farmers have been able to be a part of the direct CCRES support scheme for agriculture, but wild fruit and timber varieties in particular, which are more labour-​intensive to cultivate than standard fruit trees, are still planted very rarely.
In order to ensure the longest possible carbon capture and a contribution to biodiversity, the CCRES focus is on the planting of timber and wild fruit trees, which can be planted in combination with standard fruit trees. Even if the trees are felled later on, a lot of carbon remains captured: in the roots and in the timber used for furniture or construction. Felled trees should be replaced so that new trees can capture more carbon.

Zeljko Serdar, CCRES TEAM