ELAN: Barriers to the Establishment and Productivity of different Agroforestry Systems in Lower Saxony

Political and societal attention is increasingly focused on the development of a sustainable, environmentally responsible agriculture. Agroforestry systems offer a potential opportunity to contribute positively to this development. Agroforestry is an agricultural land use system in which grassland or arable land is combined with trees or shrubs. On experimental plots it has been shown that Alley Cropping Systems provide multiple ecosystem services (such as erosion control, biodiversity enhancement, carbon sequestration) while being profitable to manage. Despite these positive experimental results, farmers in Lower Saxony are very reluctant to integrate agroforestry systems into their farm portfolios.

Within the framework of the ELAN project, cooperation is taking place with six farms in Lower Saxony that are newly establishing an agroforestry system. Through intensive information and data exchange, economic, social and agronomic obstacles to agroforestry are to be identified. During the project, the farms will be accompanied by social-empirical surveys on their values, attitudes and experiences as well as motivation in order to identify possible changes in their perceptions, but also obstacles to establishment. Since agroforestry systems are associated with a potential additional effort, the transaction costs related to the agroforestry system are recorded for the farms. In order to be able to assess the potential of agroforestry under real farm conditions, the six farms are also continuously collecting economic data on the agroforestry and reference areas. In this way, the economic risks can be analyzed and potential solutions can be identified which could contribute to an increased establishment of agroforestry systems in Lower Saxony.

On the basis of the economic data, farm model calculations will be carried out to enable farm-specific scenario analyses on potential advantages and obstacles of different farm types. The entire farm structure as well as farm risks and findings on soil-relevant ecosystem services are to be explicitly included in the modelling. In addition, various support and incentive systems will be modelled and tested. The socio-economic data obtained from the surveys will also be used as input for the modelling in order to illustrate how the farm is structured depending on the private objectives of the farmers.
The German Association for Agroforestry (DeFAF e.V.) will accompany the research work in a practice-oriented approach, act as a consultant and partner for the six farms and contribute to the transfer of the research results. The research results could give political decision-makers an indication of how funding opportunities can be designed specifically for the target group in order to efficiently promote agroforestry in Lower Saxony.

Further information and updates on the project can be found on the DeFAF-Website.

Person in charge:
Paul, C.; Volckens, V.

Funded by:
Niedersächsischen Ministerium für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Verbraucherschutz

Project partner:
Deutscher Fachverband für Agroforstwirtschaft (DeFAF e.V.), Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI)

25.10.2022 bis 21.10.2025