Agroforestry is a trend, but it is not a panacea

16. 12. 2019 -

Experts from the Mendel University in Brno want to actively participate in the promotion and research of agroforestry in the Czech Republic. They have already established the first experimental plots on university training enterprises. In total, they want to have about ten in a few years.

Experts will study, among others, impacts on biodiversity and reducing erosion rates. They perceive tree planting in a vast agricultural landscape as one of the ways to improve its condition. Trees planted and cultivated in fields of corn, maize or rapeseed can also mean an overall increase in yield and, above all, their balance. Agroforestry, where trees on farmland are just one form, compensates for climatic extremes. "The trees will give shade to the main crop growing in the field. The crop is not so stressed by sunlight. We will monitor the experimental sites for decades, because each year has different specifics," said Martin Klimánek, vice-rector for Strategy and Development at MENDELU.

According to Antonín Martiník from the Institute of Forest Creation and Growing, Faculty of Forestry and Wood Technology, MENDELU, agroforestry is not a panacea for the ills of land management. People should rather perceive this form as one of the ways to improve the landscape and agriculture in particular. "Agroforestry has been here in the past, but gradually disappeared in the landscape in Central Europe.Today there are only certain relics. Agroforestry is a common way of farming in the developing world, in advanced countries it is a progressive trend," said Martiník.

Some of the farmers in the Czech republic are still skeptical about this "novelty". They are most afraid of bureaucracy and there are also stereotypes such as "woody plants take water" or that woody management is more complicated. According to sociologist Lukáš Kala, most farmers are willing to plant trees, but only on their own soil. Most of them agree that trees are beautiful and form the aesthetic aspect of the landscape. At the same time, however, farmers draw attention to a number of legislative obstacles. "The trees want to plant, but they are afraid of losing subsidies for agricultural land. Trees on agricultural land are becoming a landscape element. But when they grow up, they cannot be cut down at any time and disposed of freely," said Kala.