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Conventional German farmers’ attitudes towards agricultural wood and their willingness to plant an alley cropping system as an ecological focus area: A cluster analysis

Beer, Lara, Theuvsen, Ludwig
Biomass and bioenergy 2019 v.125 pp. 63-69
Common Agricultural Policy, alley cropping, cluster analysis, coppicing, data collection, farmers' attitudes, growers, trees, wood, Germany
Agricultural wood (the cultivation of fast growing short rotation trees) is a way of complying with the Greening restrictions of the current European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The CAP permits Short Rotation Coppice (SRC) and Alley Cropping Systems (ACS) as Ecological Focus Area (EFA) methods of agricultural wood cultivation, although the latter method – which is a kind of Agroforestry System - is not approved in Germany. In Germany, however, farmers are permitted to display the SRC-strips of an ACS separately as EFA. Cultivation data, however, shows that German farmers participate relatively little in agricultural wood growing. Their willingness to provide agricultural wood as EFA is also considerably low. Only a few European studies have yet dealt with farmers' attitudes towards agricultural wood, and there are no studies that examine the willingness of farmers to plant ACS as EFA. To close this research gap, this article analyses German farmers' attitudes towards agricultural wood and estimates their willingness to grow ACS as EFA. An evaluation of the 238 datasets shows that farmers’ attitudes are generally negative; however farmers cannot be seen as a homogeneous group regarding their attitudes and willingness to grow. Two of the four identified clusters comprise farmers who are willing to cultivate ACS as EFA, provided that the weighting factor is further increased. These potential growers are characterised by having larger farms with less leased land as well as more experience with agricultural wood. Conclusively, recommendations for action are given to improve the acceptance of ACS as EFA.