Agroforestry is regarded as a promising agricultural system which might provide answers to the ever more obvious climate effects, and the declining soil quality and biodiversity.
Almost nowhere have trees disappeared so fast and to such an extent from the agricultural context as in the South of The Netherlands and in Flanders. Trees were regarded as hampering intensification, mechanisation and field enlargement. Where farmers are interested in reintegrating trees within their farming system and farm management, many questions remain to be answered, barriers to be overcome and perspectives to be presented.
The Agroforestry Network of Noord-Brabant in The Netherlands consists of about 50 farmers who have the ambition to apply agroforestry on their farm and/or want to experiment with it. To facilitate making use of experiences and knowledge available elsewhere, this network got in touch with the Flemish Consortium Agroforestry and their RAIN network within the AFINET project. This clearly links with one of the objectives of AFINET, i.e. to enable synergies, contacts and collaboration with agroforestry-related networks outside the AFINET partner group.
The group in Flanders and the Agroforestry Network Noord-Brabant are in touch on a very regular basis, hoping that this exchange will lead to mutual strengthening. To give an example, a group of 17 Dutch farmers visited the farm of the Flemish agroforestry pioneer François Ongenaert, and partners from ILVO and Inagro visited two pig farms in Noord-Brabant in the framework of the Operational Group P’Orchard, in which opportunities for agroforestry in the free range area for pigs are being explored. Both visits resulted in a lot of enthusiasm by the participants.
The Agroforestry Network Noord-Brabant in its turn shares these new experiences with its members but also with other stakeholders in The Netherlands: e.g. Wageningen University, Agroforestry Nederland, University of Applied Sciences Van Hall Larenstein and Has Den Bosch. Sharing information, contacts and activities within AFINET clearly has an impact across borders.
Liempde, 1st December 2018
Piet Rombouts, Project Leader Agroforestry Network Brabant and representative for The Netherlands in the European Agroforestry Federation EURAF.