HortiBonn at the European Agroforestry Conference in Brno, CZ

The HortiBonn group was in Brno, Czech Republic from May 23-27, 2024 to attend the 7th European Agroforestry (EURAF) Conference. 396 attendees were present from 43 countries, all to explore the potentials of agroforestry in transforming and improving agricultural landscapes across not just Europe but the globe. The conference was held at the Mendel University, a fitting namesake for a conference which showed plenty of evidence towards the ability of agroforestry to have profound benefits towards society and science.
Prof. Dr. Eike Luedeling led the charge with six other members of the university in attendance. Dr. Cory Whitney provided his wealth of knowledge as lead of the Holistic Systems Analysis group and supported the group throughout. Dr. Prajna Kasargodu Anebagilu gave her presentation on “Holistic modelling of different agroforestry systems within the ReForest project to promote adoption in Europe”. Dr. Marcos Jiménez Martínez presented his poster on “Describing the carbon accumulation temporal dynamics of agroforestry systems to harmonize the estimation of their climate mitigation benefit with other carbon dioxide removal (CDR) interventions”, Andrew Marcil gave his on “Estimating the potential productivity of agroforestry in North Rhine-Westphalia based on evidence from other temperate agroforestry systems” and Lucas Hoffman on “Decision Analysis and Impact Pathway for Agroforestry Integration on Dairy Farms in the Eifel Region, Germany”. The last poster presenter, Simon Swatek , presented on “Agroforestry adoption in Germany: Using decision analysis to highlight the effects of institutional barriers and funding options on system profitability” and was chosen as the winner of the EURAF Youth Award!

On May 30, the group participated in field trips throughout the Czech Republic spanning Moravia and Bohemia as well as lower Austria. A multitude of systems were visited, combining practices of alley cropping, silvopastoralism, short rotation coppicing, vegetable growing, and more. Products included fruits, nuts, high value timber, biochar, crops, vegetables and animal products amongst less common integration of features such as photovoltaic panels and growth of unique species such as sea buckthorn (Hippophae spp.). These systems included various functional farms as well as research sites looking at the potential of agroforestry to provide increased provisioning in addition to the important environmental and site benefits such as erosion control, soil regeneration, water retention with many focused on the ability of agroforestry to regenerate land degraded from conventional agricultural management. The trips were an amazing opportunity to see how these agroforestry in action, and to learn from the valuable experiences of those involved and the exciting initiatives happening in the region. We would like to thank all farmers, researchers and others who agreed to show us their exciting projects.
This conference also hosted the 3rd annual meeting ReForest project on May 27,2024. We met with project partners from 13 institutions to discuss the best strategies to promote adoption of agroforestry in Europe. It was a great opportunity to get to know our colleagues better and resulted in some very exciting talks and developments for the project. Please visit https://agroreforest.eu/ to keep up to date on how things are progressing.
Lastly, a heartfelt thank you to everyone who contributed towards the success of the conference, and for Mendel University and Brno for supporting us in our work towards a more forested landscape. We very much look forward to the next EURAF conference.

Andrew Marcil
Andrew Marcil

Hi, I am a plant scientist and ecologist with some skills in programming and trying to use these for exploring agroforestry as a serious option for farmers in Germany and elsewhere.