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Opportunities, barriers and constraints in organic techniques helping to improve the sustainability of conventional farming
Agroforestry in dairy systems, a part of Sustainable Organic and Low Input Dairying
Contract period:1 April 2011 to 1 March 2016
Main funder:EU Seventh Framework Programme
Contact staff at ORC:Dr. Jo Smith
Project aimsThis work package within SOLID will aim to promote a nutritionally improved and more reliable supply of forage to meet the needs of lactating animals in organic and low input systems in order to improve competitiveness, animal health and welfare and milk quality. This will be achieved by the provision of novel feeding systems and feeds to provide buffers to grassland and forage feed supplies and through decision support systems which can be used by farmers to manage their forage supplies to meet herd requirements.
ORC's roleA novel feed supply concept implemented in an agroforestry system in the UK will be examined which has the potential to deliver unique multifunctional properties. Three geographically-spread (Suffolk, Berkshire and Gloucestershire, UK) organic sites will be used to examine various aspects of the multifunctionality of the agroforestry approach: a new willow agroforestry system will provide economic and environmental (including microclimate) data on establishing and managing a system; an established willow bioenergy system and organic dairy system will be assessed in respect of its total productivity and livestock carrying capacity of the system (dairy cows); and an established willow agroforestry system will be evaluated in terms of microclimate modification (air and soil temperature, wind speed, humidity, soil moisture, solar radiation and shading), carbon storage (measurement and modelling of carbon dynamics in soil and vegetation) and soil nutrient dynamics (measurement and modelling of soil nutrient dynamics). These three systems will allow an evaluation of the multifunctional potential of an agroforestry approach to dairy production in terms of economic feasibility and ecosystem service delivery.