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#agroforestry #biomass #productivity #nutrient and water use efficiency #alley cropping systems

Duration: From Sep 1, 2018 until Aug 31, 2021
Region: Gr├╝nlandstandorte Mariensee, Reiffenhausen Ackerstandorte Dornburg, Forst, Wendhausen;

About the Project:

Central aim of SIGNAL is to evaluate whether and under which site conditions agroforestry in Germany can be a land use alternative that is ecologically, economically and socially more sustainable than conventional agriculture.

Project Aim

SUSALPS aims to provide a holistic, evidence-based and process-focused understanding of the responses of key pre-alpine and alpine grassland soil functions to present day and future climate and land management changes, thereby considering specific socio-economic conditions in given regions. Based on this, we want to develop and implement sustainable climate smart management practices for pre-alpine and alpine grassland ecosystems


Sustainable intensification of agriculture can be attained if land use systems are designed that combine modern ecological knowledge of the functioning of ecosystems with traditional knowledge on farming. This recognition has stimulated renewed interest in agroforestry since there are several reasons why agroforestry systems are better able to mimic the functioning of natural ecosystems than monoculture crops. Agroforestry systems can have higher nutrient and water use efficiency than annual crops since trees in agroforestry systems can utilize deep nutrients and water outside the rooting zone of annual crops and outside the crop growing season.

Expected Results

SIGNAL will answer the question whether agroforestry systems are more sustainable than conventional agriculture and thus will increase the land equivalent ratio (LER). The two main criteria that we will use to evaluate this are the efficiency with which nutrients and water are used in agroforestry and conventional systems. We expect that in agroforestry systems a higher input of root and leaf litter of crops, grass and trees will positively influence the composition of the soil community, its functions (litter decomposition, N & P mineralization, N, P, K, Ca, Mg retention), and related soil properties (water holding capacity, aggregate stability) and thus ultimately increase crop yields.


  • Prof. Dr. Edzo Veldkamp

    Univ. G├Âttingen