Agroforestry systems can reconcile the interests of agriculture and nature conservation. But there is still a lot of need for clarification, whether in research or in regulation. We are taking stock.
It is a warm day in May in a field between Lasauvage and Differdange. What started here almost five years ago is gradually making a difference. Wild fruit trees grow in groups of three at a distance of 56 metres – in the middle of a field. Between them, forage peas, oats with clover undersowing and potatoes are to be harvested in the coming months. "Peas and potatoes are a good preceding crop for wheat", Guy Tempels says about the nitrogen collectors. The farmer from Oberkorn plans to sow bread wheat on the entire area next year. But more on that later.
Here, on a field of just over 30 hectares, the Nature and Forestry Administration (ANF) implemented its first agroforestry pilot project a few years ago. A second one has been established in Givenich. The European agroforestry association Euraf defines the concept as "the integration of woody vegetation, crops and/or livestock on the same area of land". In other words, a field or meadow is used in several ways at the same time. A classic example is the combination of grazing animals with orchards, for example keeping sheep in a vineyard or under walnut trees – both of which exist in Luxembourg.
But Agroforestry does not want to simply turn back the clock. "In particular, the land consolidation measures in the second half of the 20th century led to a clearing out of the agricultural landscape in order to achieve better mechanisability and cultivation efficiency on the land", notes Dr Thorsten Ruf, whose research activities at the Institute for Organic Agriculture and Agrarian Culture (Ibla) include the topic of agroforestry. After all, the aim was to feed people after the Second World War. But the "zeitgeist" of the time also had consequences such as an increased risk of erosion or the decline of biodiversity.
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