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SAFE
Silvoarable agroforestry for Europe

The purpose of the SAFE project is to encourage Europe to take advantage of silvoarable agroforestry systems - wide-spaced trees and crops mixed in the same agricultural parcels. However, such systems are currently not attractive to farmers due to policy adjustment. The introduction of wide-spaced, high-quality trees on European farmland will be modelled on plot, farm and regional scales. The project will accumulate evidence that mixtures of trees and crops are environmentally efficient and will provide high quality timber resources, while improving the amenity value of agricultural landscapes. The project brings together field experimenters, modellers of tree-crop interactions and end users in the farm and forest sectors. A biophysical model will be linked with an economic model for long-term evaluation.

Objectives
The project aims at answering the following questions:
1) Is agroforestry technology an opportunity for present day European farmers?
2) Can we design agroforestry techniques to be compatible with modern farming systems in Europe?
3) Where in Europe can agroforestry technology have a future?
4) What benefits, in terms of efficiency of resource use, can be expected from modern silvoarable technology?
5) What policy schemes could be suggested to deter or to prompt farmers to adopt silvoarable technology?
The final delivery of the project will be an 'Agroforestry Policy Options' document allowing the European Union to frame new agroforestry regulations.

Progress to Date
1) A database of extant silvoarable systems in Europe was collated and is available on the project website (http://www.ensam.inra.fr/safe/)
2) A biophysical model of tree-crop interactions called HySAFE is currently being developed. This process-based model describes the light, water and nitrogen competition between trees and all major European crops during a growing season. It will allow the design of optimal management for modern silvoarable fields. It includes a new, breakthrough module on tree root growth designed with the concept of cellular automata that should allow the prediction of behaviour of two competing rooting systems.
3) A simplified model of tree-crop interactions called SimpleSAFE is also now available. This model can be run for the whole lifetime of the trees (from 15 to 100 years) depending on the species and the fertility index. It will produce a time-series of tree and crop production that will be used to calculate the profitability of the technology. Uncertainty analysis and sensitivity analysis of the model is currently being performed.
4. The SAFE economic model is available on the website. It calculates all economic criteria on a plot and farm scale, and allows the comparison of agroforestry with conventional agriculture and afforestation of agricultural land.
Some target areas in three European countries (Spain, France and The Netherlands) have been selected and will be surveyed for defining if agroforestry technology is appropriate for the local farmers. A questionnaire about farmers' reactions to a modern agroforestry technology is now ready to be used in six European countries.
5. New silvoarable plots were planted in the spring of 2003 in three European countries where the technology is unknown (Greece, Germany and The Netherlands). These plots will also be a test to see if local policies are in favour of agroforestry.

Results
Final end-user conferences were held in France, Spain, Greece, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.
The project website has been much visited and the final reports downloaded.
The guidelines for agroforestry policy in Europe were delivered in Brussels in 2005.
A significant number of scientific papers were published on the project.
All project delverables were achieved.

Classified in ARABLE CROPS, FORESTRY, CAP AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT, QUANTITATIVE APPROACHES AND MODELLING

Scientist responsible for the project

Dr. CHRISTIAN DUPRAZ
Place Viala 2
34060 Montpellier CEDEX 1
France - FR

Phone: +33 4 99 61 23 39
Fax: +33 4 67 52 21 16
E-mail: dupraz@ensam.inra.fr

References

Project ID QLRT-2000-00560
Organisation Institut Nantional de la Recherche Agronomique
Area 5.3.1
Start date 01 August 2001
Duration (months) 42
Total cost 4 256 188 €
Total EC contribution   2 087 450 €
Status Completed
Web address of the project   http://www.montpellier.inra.fr/safe/

The partners

  • GELDERS PARTICULIER GRONDBEZIT, Netherlands (The) - NL
    gpg@hetnet.nl
  • NATUREL ENVIRONMENT RESEARCH COUNCIL (NERC), United Kingdom (The) - GB
    gela@NERC.AC.UK
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