Published 28.02.2023

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Forum Ostergaard: Paradise for insects and small animals

An agroforestry system was established at Forum Østergaard to improve biodiversity and create habitats for pollinators throughout the year, increase carbon sequestration and produce food for both human consumption and for wild animals.

Forum Ostergaard is one of the host farms in the project “Agroforestry - a sustainable agricultural system for plant breeding and milk production (ROBUST)”, which is led by the Innovation Centre for Organic Farming. In this article, the owner of Forum Ostergaard, Bjarne Larsen, answers a few questions two years after implementing the agroforestry system. 

What are your experiences so far? 

"We planted apple trees last year, and some of them were attacked by hares. Simply because the hares were faster than I was. We have a game fence, but already the day after planting, before I was done with installing the fence, the hares had been there. I plan to plant replacement trees during the winter. This year, I have also cultivated two hectares of fava beans in the agroforestry system, which produced a satisfying yield. I still think agroforestry is fun, and it hasn’t increased my workload.”

What have you learned about agroforestry?

"I would say that it has been a very positive experience for me to see how quickly insects, bumble bees, butterflies, and birds have started to appear. I have been quite surprised at how quickly it happened, and the benefits of agroforestry in terms of biodiversity have become very clear to me. I have noticed that the animals that near the trees tend to stay there, so I haven’t noticed an improved biodiversity on my other fields. This may be because birds feel protected when they are in or near the rows of trees.

How do you see the future?

“I reckon we can go commercial from next year and start selling apples, pears, and nuts from the trees and bushes. Consumers will be able to pick their own fruits and berries, as the workload would be too high if we are the ones doing the picking. As a bonus, this would allow people to visit and experience agroforestry first-hand and see which insects and birds have immigrated to the farm”.

Facts about Forum Østergaard

  • Current production: Crop production, primarily cereal crops for consumption: gluten-free groats, malted barley, and bread wheat. Sells to the DLG Group or small mills. In 2019, five agroforestry systems were established combining cereal production with apple, pear, plum, hazelnut, walnut, and chestnut production.
  • Agroforestry system: Crop production, apple trees and an experimental area of ornamental greens, berries, hops, and wine.
  • Area: 21 hectares of agroforestry on a total farm area of 160 hectares. 40 hectares of permanent grassland.
  • Purpose of trees: Increased biodiversity, habitats for pollinators throughout the year, carbon sequestration, production of food for both human consumption and for wild animals.