Agroforestry in Flanders: an economically profitable answer to the demand for agro ecological production methods

Project Details


Main research question/goal

What are the potential benefits of agroforestry as an agro-ecological production system in our region? Is it economically profitable? Which ecosystem services are provided by agroforestry? How does it affect biomass production and the quality of crops? Where in Flanders does agroforestry apply? What are the technical conditions for cultivation? How can we deal with legal and administrative issues? We aimed at answering these research questions in the project "Agroforestry in Flanders", which was supported by VLAIO, to pave the way for a breakthrough in the relatively short term of feasible, profitable and effective agroforestry systems in Flanders. More specifically, we aimed at (1) professionalization of the application of agroforestry, based on knowledge and practical experience, (2) an attitude towards agroforestry based on an objective assessment of its potential as an agro-ecological cultivation system, (3) a meaningful contribution to increased legal certainty for agroforestry practitioners, and (4) the effective implementation of agroforestry plots on farm.

Research approach

The project approach consisted of a participatory trajectory with relevant stakeholders, fueled on the one hand by knowledge-building research on agroforestry in Flanders and on the other hand by effective access to knowledge and dissemination. The results are (1) An increased knowledge about ecological interactions, ecosystem services, technical impact and economic opportunities; (2) Insight into social, economic and institutional bottlenecks and opportunities; (3) A range of decision support guidelines, practical recommendations and innovative solutions to farms regarding the application of agroforestry, brought together on the platform website; (4) A broad range of individual guiding trajectories for farmers engaging in agroforestry, adapted to their specific farm situation.


Agroforestry not only has the potential to add value on an economic level. It can also grow into an ecological and socially sustainable cultivation system. Additional added value takes the form of biodiversity, landscape quality, environmental quality and erosion prevention. The intended innovations focus on knowledge development for a fairly new technique in Flanders. Despite foreign studies and practical examples, there is a need for research on agroforestry in the Flemish context. This project not only responded to the recent focus on agroforestry within (European) policy, but also to the current demand for well-founded support for companies with a concrete transition demand for agroforestry applications. This project generated not only a change in attitude but also increased adoption of agroforestry in practice.

Funding provider(s)
IWT - Instituut voor de aanmoediging door wetenschap en technologie in Vlaanderen
Effective start/end date1/09/1431/08/19