Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 81, Issue 2, pp 93–108 | Cite as

Farm-SAFE: the process of developing a plot- and farm-scale model of arable, forestry, and silvoarable economics

  • A. R. Graves
  • P. J. Burgess
  • F. Liagre
  • J.-P. Terreaux
  • T. Borrel
  • C. Dupraz
  • J. Palma
  • F. Herzog


Financial feasibility and financial return are two key issues that farmers and land owners consider when deciding between alternative land uses such as arable farming, forestry and agroforestry. Moreover regional variations in yields, prices and government grants mean that the relative revenue and cost of such systems can vary substantially within Europe. To aid our understanding of these variations, the European Commission sponsored a research project called “Silvoarable Agroforestry For Europe” (SAFE). This paper describes the process of developing a new economic model within that project. The initial stages included establishing criteria for the model with end-users and reviewing the literature and existing models. This indicated that the economic model needed to allow comparison of arable farming, forestry and agroforestry systems at a plot- and a farm-scale. The form of comparisons included net margins, net present values, infinite net present values, equivalent annual values, and labour requirements. It was decided that the model would operate in a spreadsheet format, and the effect of phased planting patterns would be included at a farm-scale. Following initial development, additional user feedback led to a final choice on a model name, a final method of collating input data, and the inclusion of field-based operations such as varying the cropped area, replacing dead trees, and pruning. In addition options in terms of improved graphical outputs and the ability to undertake sensitivity analysis were developed. Some of the key lessons learnt include the need to establish clear model criteria and the benefits of developing a working prototype at an early stage to gain user-feedback.


Cost-benefit analysis Net present value Economic analysis Economic model Equivalent annual value 



We are very grateful for the reviewers’ feedback and suggestions. Their insight has greatly aided the development and quality of this paper. This research was carried out as part of the SAFE (Silvoarable Agroforestry for Europe) collaborative research project. SAFE is funded by the EU under its Quality of Life programme, contract number QLF5-CT-2001-00560, and the support is gratefully acknowledged.

Supplementary material

10457_2010_9363_MOESM1_ESM.docx (23 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 23 kb)


  1. Agbenyega O, Burgess PJ, Cook M, Morris J (2009) Application of the ecosystem function framework to perceptions of community woodlands. Land Use Policy 26:551–557CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Agriculture Western Australia and Campbell White and Associates Pty Ltd. (2000) Agroforestry calculator user manual. A report for the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), Land and Water Resource Research and Development Corporation (LWRRDC), and Forest and Wood Products Research and Development Corporation (FWPRDC). RIRDC Publication No 99/154. RIRDC Project No DAW-84A. Department of Agriculture, Western Australia, Australia, 24 ppGoogle Scholar
  3. Burgess PJ, Brierley EDR, Goodall GR (1999) The financial costs of farm woodland establishment at four sites in Bedfordshire, England. In: Burgess PJ, Brierley EDR, Morris J, Evans J (eds) Farm woodlands for the future. BIOS Scientific, Oxford, pp 81–94Google Scholar
  4. Burgess PJ, Incoll LD, Hart BJ, Beaton A, Piper RW, Seymour I, Reynolds FH, Wright C, Pilbeam D, Graves AR (2003) The impact of silvoarable agroforestry with poplar on farm profitability and biological diversity. Final report to DEFRA. Project code: AF0105. Cranfield University, Silsoe, Bedfordshire, 63 ppGoogle Scholar
  5. Burgess PJ, Incoll LD, Corry DT, Beaton A, Hart BJ (2004) Poplar (Populus spp) growth and crop yields in a silvoarable experiment at three lowland sites in England. Agrofor Syst 63:157–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Decisioneering® Inc (2005) Crystal Ball 7 risk analysis software and solutions. Modelling software for spreadsheets, developed by Decisioneering®, Denver, United States of America. Accessed 9 Oct 2008
  7. Dupraz C, Newman S (1997) Temperate agroforestry: the European way. In: Gordon AM, Newman SM (eds) Temperate agroforestry systems. CAB International, Wallingford, UK, pp 181–236Google Scholar
  8. Dupraz C, Lagacherie M, Liagre F, Boutland A (1995) Perspectives de diversification des exploitation agricoles de la région Midi-Pyrénées par l’agroforesterie. Rapport de fin d’études commandité par le Conseil Régional Midi-Pyrénées. Institute National de la Recherche Agronomique, Montpellier. Contract AIR3 CT92-0134, 253 ppGoogle Scholar
  9. Dupraz C, Burgess PJ, Gavaland A, Graves AR, Herzog F, Incoll LD, Jackson N, Keesman K, Lawson G, Lecomte I, Mantzanas K, Mayus M, Palma J, Papanastasis V, Paris P, Pilbeam DJ, Reisner Y, van Noordwijk M, Vincent G, van der Werf W (2005) SAFE (Silvoarable Agroforestry for Europe) Synthesis report. SAFE project. August 2001–January 2005.
  10. Faustmann M (1849) Berechnung des Wertes Waldboden sowie noch nicht haubare Holzbestände für die Waldwirfschaft besitzen. Allgemeine Forst und Jagd-Zeitung 25:411–455Google Scholar
  11. Graves AR, Matthew RB, Waldie K (2004) Low external input technologies for livelihood improvement in subsistence agriculture. Adv Agron 82:473–555CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Graves AR, Burgess PJ, Liagre F, Terreaux JP, Dupraz C (2005) Development and use of a framework for characterising computer models of silvoarable economics. Agrofor Syst 65:53–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Graves AR, Burgess PJ, Palma JHN, Herzog F, Moreno G, Bertomeu M, Dupraz C, Liagre F, Keesman K, van der Werf W, Koeffeman de Nooy A, van den Briel JP (2007) Development and application of bio-economic modelling to compare silvoarable, arable and forestry systems in three European countries. Ecol Eng 29:434–449CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Graves AR, Burgess PJ, Liagre F, Pisanelli A, Paris P, Moreno GM, Bellido M, Mayus M, Postma M, Schlindler B, Mantzanas K, Papanastasis VP, Dupraz C (2009) Farmer perceptions of silvoarable systems in seven European countries. In: Rigueiro-Rodríguez A, McAdam JH, Mosquera-Losada MR (eds) Advances in agroforestry, vol 6: agroforestry in Europe: current status and future prospects. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 67–86Google Scholar
  15. Graves AR, Burgess PJ, Palma J, Keesman K, van der Werf W, Dupraz C, van Keulen H, Herzog F, Mayus M (2010) Implementation and calibration of the parameter-sparse Yield-SAFE model to predict production and land equivalent ratio in mixed tree and crop systems under two contrasting production situations in Europe. Ecol Modell 221:1744–1756CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hart C (1994) Practical forestry for the agent and surveyor. Sutton Publishing Ltd., Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK, 688 ppGoogle Scholar
  17. Knowles L, Middlemiss P (1999) Evaluating agroforestry options: a continuing professional development course. Forest Research, Rotura, New ZealandGoogle Scholar
  18. Liagre F (1997) ARBUSTRA Manuel de l’utilisateur. User manual for ARBUSTRA, Centre Régional de la Propriété Forestière (CRPF) and l’Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) Montpellier, France, 71 ppGoogle Scholar
  19. Mercer DE, Miller RP, Nair PKR, Latt CR (1998) Socioeconomic research in agroforestry: progress, prospects, priorities. Agrofor Syst 38:177–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) Ecosystems and human well-being synthesis. Island Press, Washington, DC, 137 ppGoogle Scholar
  21. ModelKinetixTM (2005) ModelMaker® 4.0. Modelling software developed by ModelKinetixTM, a trade name for FamilyGenetix© managed by A.P. Bensen, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, England. Accessed 9 Oct 2008
  22. Nelson RA, Cramb RA (1998) Economic incentives for farmers in the Philippine uplands to adopt hedgerow intercropping. J Environ Manag 54(2):83–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Pannel DJ (1999) Social and economic challenges in the development of complex farming systems. Agrofor Syst 45(1/3):393–409CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Savage SL (2003) Decision making with insight. Thomson Learning, London, UKGoogle Scholar
  25. Systems Thinking Software™ (2005) Stella™. Modelling software developed by ISEE, Systems Thinking Software™, Lebanon, United States of America. Accessed 9 Oct 2008
  26. Thomas TH (1991) A spreadsheet approach to the economic modelling of agroforestry systems. For Ecol Manag 45:207–235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. van der Werf W, Keesman K, Burgess PJ, Graves AR, Pilbeam D, Incoll LD, Metselaar K, Mayus M, Stappers R, van Keulen H, Palma J, Dupraz C (2007) Yield-SAFE: a parameter-sparse process-based dynamic model for predicting resource capture, growth and production in agroforestry systems. Ecol Eng 29:419–433CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Van Noordwijk M, Lusiana B (1999) WaNuLCAS 1.0. A model of water, nutrient and light capture in agroforestry systems. Agrofor Syst 45:131–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Van Noordwijk M, Lusiana B (2000) WaNuLCAS 2.0. Background on a model of water, nutrient and light capture in agroforestry systems. International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF), Bogor, IndonesiaGoogle Scholar
  30. Van Noordwijk M, Lusiana B (2003) Welcome to the world of WaNuLCAS. A model of water nutrient and light capture in Agroforestry Systems. ICRAF South East Asia Programme, Bogor, Indonesia. Accessed 9 Oct 2008
  31. Whiteman A, Insley H, Watt G (1991) Price-size curves for broadleaves. Occasional Paper Forestry Commission. 32:1, 36 ppGoogle Scholar
  32. Willis RW, Thomas TH, van Slycken J (1993) Poplar agroforestry: a re-evaluation of its economic potential on arable land in the United Kingdom. For Ecol Manag 57:85–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Wojtkowski PA, Jordan CF, Cubbage FW (1990) Bio-economic modelling in agroforestry: a rubber-cacao example. Agrofor Syst 14:163–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. R. Graves
    • 1
  • P. J. Burgess
    • 1
  • F. Liagre
    • 2
  • J.-P. Terreaux
    • 3
  • T. Borrel
    • 4
  • C. Dupraz
    • 4
  • J. Palma
    • 5
  • F. Herzog
    • 6
  1. 1.Cranfield UniversityCranfieldUK
  2. 2.Assemblée Permanente des Chambres d’AgricultureParisFrance
  3. 3.Cemagref, 361, Rue J. F. BretonMontpellier Cedex 5France
  4. 4.Institut National de la Recherche AgronomiqueMontpellierFrance
  5. 5.Technical University of LisbonLisboaPortugal
  6. 6.Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon Research Station ARTZurichSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations