Can hedgerows fight climate change? RAU staff win research award at international Agroforestry Conference

Research into the value of using hedgerows to reduce carbon emissions won the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) an award at the 4th European Agroforestry Conference, in the Netherlands.

Academics, practitioners and policy leads from across the world met to discuss all aspects of Agroforestry - a way of integrating the growing of trees or shrubs amongst agricultural crops or pasture. It can provide multiple benefits, not least that of increasing productivity from the same area of land.

The prize for Best Conference Poster was awarded to the RAU’s Dr Ian Grange for research work he and colleagues presented on the value of hedgerows in carbon capture and storage.

Dr Grange, Senior Lecturer in Environment and Countryside Management said: “More attention is now being given to hedgerows, not only as a landscape and boundary feature, but also for a range of other ecosystem services they provide, including carbon sequestration.

“It’s great to see the RAU gaining international recognition for the cutting edge work that we have been doing on hedgerows.”

Jonathan Brunyee, Senior Lecturer in Farm Business Management at RAU, also attended the conference after being awarded a farmer bursary by the Organic Research Centre and Farm Woodland Forum. 

Jonathan believes agroforestry has a vital role to play in a forward-looking UK agricultural and environmental policy focused on public goods and resilience.

He said: “Integrating trees into arable or livestock systems is complex but done well the benefits for productivity, biodiversity, carbon, soil, water and animal health are considerable.  Research at the conference also highlighted the economic benefits. With my farmer’s hat on, agroforestry paired with multispecies mob grazing of diverse pastures is very interesting, and a concept I am hoping to trial on my farm in the future.’’

Jonathan and Ian are currently leading a team developing the new BSc in Agroecology and Sustainable Land Management at the RAU under the Catalyst Fund programme.  Agroforestry content will be built into this degree.