Doyle highlights role of agroforestry on Irish farms

“Plant trees and continue farming” was the key message from the Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture, Andrew Doyle, today, Thursday, August 29, at an open day on an agroforestry site.

Speaking at the event on Leo Murphy’s farm in Kilcock, Co. Kildare, Minister Doyle said: “This open day here is to help others understand agroforestry and the benefits of considering this type of planting.

It is funded through grants under the National Forestry Programme and these premia were significantly increased last year from €260 to €645/ha/year for five years.

“To see the sheep grazing contentedly amongst oak, cherry and sycamore trees planted really highlights the benefits of this approach for our environment, our livestock and our land.

“The increase introduced last year on the grants and premia make this worthy of serious consideration by all farmers.”

Agroforestry is the planting of trees on farmland at lower density than normal woodlands so that farming activity can continue on the same land.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine paid for the planting of those trees and pays an annual premium to the farmer for five years.

This is part of the Government’s commitment to delivering results under the recently published Climate Action Plan 2019 and the role which our agriculture and land use sector in achieving these targets.

New rules

As part of today’s open day, the minister also announced that his department had agreed with the EPA on new rules which will allow the planting of agroforestry in areas designated as acid-sensitive lands.

This now gives farmers real options for planting trees on some 150,000ha of designated acid-sensitive areas. Minister Doyle welcomed this development.

This now creates potential for significantly greater uptake of agroforestry and native species in designated acid sensitive areas by farmers who wish to develop agroforestry as part of their farming enterprise.

Farmers who are interested in joining the scheme can access details on the Department of Agriculture’s website under forestry grants and premium schemes, or may contact either a Teagasc forestry advisor, a registered forester or their agricultural advisor in order to learn more.