What is the role of trees and woodland on an upland livestock farm today? UK RAIN workshop

Trees and woodland can present new opportunities for upland farmers to increase livestock wellbeing and contribute to the profitability of the farm, a role increasingly recognised. However, there are still many questions about the practicalities of how to successfully integrate trees and woodland into farming systems. This practical one-day workshop, organised on 15th September by the Organic Research Centre as part of the AFINET and AGFORWARD projects, and hosted by Andrew and Shona Barbour of Mains of Fincastle FarmPitlochry, Scotland explored the pros and cons of integrating trees, woodland and livestock in upland farming systems, the potential benefits of trees for livestock and for upland farming in general.

The day started with presentations covering the influence of trees on animal behaviour, the practicalities and economics of combining grazing animals with trees and grants and support available. Andrew then led us on a farm walk including a visit to his new wood pasture planting designed for stock grazing and shelter throughout the season.

After the presentations a short workshop introduced the new UK RAIN on trees and livestock. Workshop participants were asked to help us decide on the focus of the group and to think about:

  • Where information is lacking
  • Where it would help to get together and discuss specific subjects
  • Where we should prioritise collation and dissemination of existing knowledge

The main areas identified in the workshop were:

  1. A need for more information on the annual benefits of tree planting in terms of savings (cumulative from day one) and economic case studies (cost of establishment, labour and likely returns)
  2. Better understanding of how to increase awareness and promote the benefits of agroforestry to farmers
  3. More detailed guidance on setting up and managing agroforestry systems relevant to different farming types and geographical areas. Design decision making activities and workshops.
  4. Access to training courses to teach farmers forestry and vice versa, beginners guides to trees and troubleshooting guides

Link to full report here and you can acess AGFORWARD website

Links to Presentations:

Many thanks To Andrew and Shona Barbour of Mains of Fincastle Farm for hosting the workshop, and to the speakers Lindsay Whistance, Stewart Hendry and Mike Strachan.