Agronomy Research Expertise in Montpellier and Languedoc-Roussillon (South of France)

Agronomy : crops and cropping systems

Keywords :

Much higher production with agroforestry systems in temperate regions

1. Ensuring top quality, high quantity production

1. Ensuring top quality, high quantity production

A newly planted agroforestry plot with walnut trees and cereal crops.- © C.Dupraz A 100 ha agroforestry plot can yield as much as a standard 140 ha crop field. In agroforestry systems, trees and crops are grown together in agricultural plots. Current experiments, supplemented by computer simulations, have confirmed the high productivity potential of temperate agroforestry systems. Mixed poplar–cereal crop plots produce 40% more than plots of the same area in which trees and crops are grown separately. The complementary needs of trees and crops is one of the keys to this success–late deciduous trees such as walnut, associated with early winter crops, such as wheat, are ideal combinations, with light, water, nitrogen being more efficiently used than in pure crop systems.

This boosted productivity could also be explained by other more subtle mechanisms. The plasticity of tree root systems can overcome competition with the crop by growing deeper, thus also enhancing their resistance to summer water stress. Trees also provide climatic protection for crops, therefore reducing heat stress, which is increasing with global warming. Other interactions between trees and crops involve the biodiversity that the trees reintroduce in the plot. Wild flowers that grow under the tree rows attract beneficial organisms that, in turn, help control cereal aphids. Several thousands of hectares of agroforestry plots are now planted yearly in France and in around 10 other European countries.

A hectare of agroforestry plot stores around 2 t more carbon a year than a standard crop plot. Due to the annual mortality of fine tree roots, a significant share of this involves long-term carbon storage. Agroforestry systems are a typical example of ecological intensification, whereby productivity is maintained while generating environmental services to benefit everyone.



Christian Dupraz,

Publication date: 30/05/2010


Christian Dupraz, chercheur en agroforesterie, Inra, France from agropolis International on Vimeo.

Christian Dupraz sur le site de Restinclières, Hérault, France
Chercheur en Agroforesterie

INRA, UMR SYSTEM (Systèmes de Culture Tropicaux et Méditerranéens)
Equipe AMPLUS (Analyse et Modélisation des Systèmes de culture Plurispécifiques)
Site internet UMR System :
Site internet Association Française d'Agroforesterie:



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