The ReForest Living lab in Flanders, Belgium

There are 8 Living labs in different countries to provide data and test novel solutions

The new agroforestry research and demonstration plot is situated on the Inagro site and consists of an alley cropping system of 1.4 hectares. The tree component consists of walnut trees (Juglans regia) with an in-row distance of 8m and an inter-row distance of 24m, resulting in a tree density of 36 trees per hectare. The walnut trees have been chosen due to their high economic potential and suitability for agroforestry systems, as well as the increasing interest among farmers in these trees. The strips underneath the walnut trees will be sown with a mix of grasses and herbs to attract beneficial insects. The trees will be intercropped with crops such as potatoes, celeriac/carrot, maize, leek/cabbage, winter wheat, and field beans in a 6-year rotation. A hedge will be planted perpendicular to the dominant wind direction to act as a windbreak and habitat for insects and birds.

The main focus of the long-term monitoring study is to assess the impact of the trees and agroforestry practice on crop production and management. Crop and tree yield, crop quality, and management costs will be carefully monitored and used to calculate the economic profitability of the agroforestry system. In addition, the study will focus on the provision of ecosystem services, such as soil quality, carbon storage, water management, and biodiversity. Chemical and physical parameters of the soil, as well as soil macro- and microbiodiversity, will be monitored annually where relevant and possible. Soil moisture will be monitored through tensiometers and weather stations will measure air and soil temperature, light conditions, wind speed, and rainfall relative to the distance to the tree rows.

The agroforestry research and demonstration plot at Inagro will serve as a valuable resource for assessing the impact of agroforestry on soil, water, microclimate, biodiversity, and economic profitability, as well as providing valuable information for farmers and stakeholders.