Silvoarable agroforestry, the deliberate combined use of trees and arable crops on the same area of land, has been proposed in order to improve the environmental performance of agricultural systems in Europe. Based on existing models and algorithms, we developed a method to predict the environmental effects of SAF at a farm and landscape scale. The method is comprised of an assessment of soil erosion, nitrogen leaching, carbon sequestration, and landscape diversity and allowed the comparison of the environmental performance of SAF with arable systems using these four indicators. The method was applied to three landscape test sites of 4 km × 4 km each in Spain, France, and The Netherlands, and compared different levels of agroforestry adoption on farmland of different potential productivity. Silvoarable agroforestry was predicted to reduce soil erosion by up to 70%, to reduce N leaching by 20¿30%, to increase C sequestration over 60 years by up to 140 tonnes C ha¿1, and to increase landscape diversity up to four times. The method developed was executed with widely available landscape and farm structural data and can therefore be applied to other regions in order to obtain a broader assessment of the environmental performance of silvoarable agroforestry systems.
- biodiversity conservation