Agroforestry is a land management approach that combines trees and shrubs with crop and livestock farming systems. This practice delivers a multitude of benefits both for the farm and for nature. Find out more about how agroforestry works, the rewards and how you can make a start.

What is agroforestry?

Agroforestry is the deliberate integration of trees and shrubs into farming systems. This can be any combination of trees and shrubs that support a function, from providing shade and shelter and capturing carbon to delivering products like fruit or timber.

Different types of agroforestry

Credit: Rory Francis / WTML

Hedgerows, shelterbelts and riparian buffer strips

Hedges are part of an ancient agroforestry tradition. Together with hedgerow trees and other field edge habitats, they form an extensive habitat network that’s crucial to wildlife and defines our landscape. They provide lots of practical benefits including protecting livestock from weather extremes, aiding biosecurity, mitigating flooding, and enhancing soil, carbon and water resources.

Credit: Helen Chesshire / WTML


Trees in livestock fields. They support animal welfare, providing shade and reducing heat stress on hot days, while offering shelter from wind and rain in colder months. Trees provide nutritional and medicinal benefits through browse as well as a habitat for wildlife.

Credit: Tom Statton


Trees in arable fields. These may be productive trees grown in rows among arable crops – known as alley cropping - to earn extra income from fruits, nuts or timber. They may also be arranged as alley coppice, orchard intercropping or individual trees.

Why do we need agroforestry?

Agroforestry can maintain or even enhance the farm’s main agricultural output while improving the resilience of the business and simultaneously helping to protect soils, rivers, biodiversity and climate. Trees and shrubs are a critical tool in supporting the farm with changing weather patterns.

Systems can be designed to avoid the potential trade-offs that occur in many modern farming systems between food production and public goods, like clean air. It’s a win-win for farming and the environment.

Read the report

Our report details the benefits of agroforestry on a large scale for business, nature and climate, and explains how we can increase the number of trees in our agricultural landscape.


average yield advantage

from a silvoarable scheme compared to a monoculture


of the UK farmed area practises agroforestry

that's less than half the European average


of arable and 30% of pasture land in agroforestry

will help hit Government climate change and nature recovery targets

Why is agroforestry good for farming?

Agroforestry systems deliver a range of environmental and farm business benefits depending on design and location, including:

  • shade, shelter and browse
  • water management, air quality and soil health
  • improved diversity, functioning and connectivity of habitats
  • other harvested products, like wood fuel or fruit and nuts
  • carbon sequestration.

How we're supporting uptake of agroforestry

Working with farmers

Our expert advice and funding support helps farmers integrate trees into their farming systems. With a bespoke plan designed for each individual business, thousands of farmers have planted through our Trees for your Farm, MOREhedges and MOREwoods schemes.  

Since 2013, our Trees for your Farm scheme has provided advice and up to 100% funding support to help farmers set up agroforestry systems. Funded by Sainsbury's, we’ve helped create over 260 schemes and raised the profile of agroforestry. The scheme is now in high demand. Find out more and apply.

Support for Sainsbury's suppliers

Piloting in the South West and North West, we're working with Sainsbury's to offer their farmers and growers in-person support to create planting plans that fit their farming system. The advice covers tree species, sourcing, and funding options.

Start your agroforestry project today

Agroforestry Show

In 2023, we hosted the UK’s first ever Agroforestry Show alongside the Soil Association and sponsored by lead partner Sainsbury's. Over 1,300 pioneers from the farming and forestry communities came together to share insights on how to help farm businesses benefit from trees. Watch the recordings and register your interest for the 2025 event.

Influencing policy and future support

Working with farmers and organisations like the Soil Association, Organic Research Centre and Abacus Agriculture, we’re pressing for change. We’re calling on governments across the UK to acknowledge how important agroforestry is and embed it into new land and climate policies.

Much work remains if agroforestry is to be taken up at scale, but our efforts are paying off. All four UK countries have expressed aspirations to support agroforestry more robustly in future. Defra has announced that support for agroforestry will be available within the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELM) in late 2024.