Agroforestry for climate-positive dairy and biodiversity

Within the project 'Agroforestry for climate-positive dairy and biodiversity', researchers from Wageningen University & Research and dairy farmers in the northern provinces are working together on agroforestry. With the aim of acquainting dairy farmers with and providing tools for integrating agroforestry into their business operations in the future.

Dutch dairy farming faces major challenges. One of these challenges lies in the area of ​​the set climate targets. The sector wants to contribute to this by, among other things, capturing carbon in soil and biomass. Dairy farming also sees opportunities here for improving biodiversity. Since dairy farming uses almost half of the Dutch agricultural land, there are opportunities for agroforestry here. There is little knowledge about what agroforestry can contribute to the climate contribution from dairy farms. Moreover, not much is yet known about the effects of agroforestry in practice in terms of carbon sequestration, revenue models, animal health, animal welfare and biodiversity on the dairy farm. The aim of this project is to examine, together with research and practice, to what extent agroforestry can be incorporated into a modern dairy farm and what the effects are.

How are we going to investigate the possibilities of Agroforestry?

1. Knowledge inventory based on a system analysis of the application of agroforestry within dairy farming. This raises the necessary questions: what is the effect of planting trees and shrubs within a business. What does it yield in terms of, for example, biodiversity, animal welfare, climate, carbon sequestration and landscape quality? What is needed to make agroforesty technically and economically feasible? This information is provided through a literature review and workshops with involved dairy farmers, creating an active interaction between research and practice.
2. Designing agroforestry with suitable revenue models for dairy farming. This is done on the basis of the knowledge gathered in the first step.
3. Concrete questions from practice are converted into practical experiments. This could include, for example, setting up a large-scale research location for agroforestry for Dutch dairy farming. In addition, small experiments will be carried out at 5 dairy farmers in the Northern Netherlands.
4. The knowledge and experience gained with agroforestry in dairy farming are communicated with the various sectors and other parties involved.

There is a great need for knowledge about agroforestry for dairy farming. Both scientific and practical knowledge.
Heleen van Kernebeek, researcher at Wageningen Livestock Research

What does the project deliver?

  • Knowledge for applying innovative and future-proof agroforestry on dairy farms.

  • Designing agroforestry systems on dairy farms, which compensate part of the emissions with landscape elements.

  • Knowledge and experience regarding land use with the (partial) integration of agroforestry by experimenting with this in practice.

  • All knowledge and experiences are recorded and shared both internally and externally with the various target groups, such as all participants in this PPP, dairy farmers, government policy officers, pupils and students. The information is communicated through various channels and means of communication, such as brochures, flyers, videos, articles in trade journals, etc.