Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 90, Issue 3, pp 385–394 | Cite as

Swiss farmers don’t adopt agroforestry because they fear for their reputation

  • F. Sereke
  • M. Dobricki
  • J. Wilkes
  • A. Kaeser
  • A. R. Graves
  • E. Szerencsits
  • F. HerzogEmail author


Agricultural policy in Europe is moving towards greater support of multifunctional agriculture, such as agroforestry systems. However, modern farmers appear to be resisting this change. Trees in agricultural landscapes have been declining, despite increasing direct payments for their ecosystem services. To understand the drivers of farmer behaviour in Switzerland with regard to practicing agroforestry, we interviewed 50 farmers using a semi-quantitative and open ended questionnaire. In terms of potential motivations for adoption of agroforestry, most farmers gave highest scores to habitat ecosystem services, both for livestock and wildlife. Low scores were given to productivity, profitability and ecological direct payments. Farmers resisting adoption concluded that practising agroforestry would not have a positive impact on their reputation. They also attributed significantly lower scores to perceived behavioural control. We conclude that payments for ecosystem services will be unlikely to change farmers’ behaviour, as long as their expectations and knowledge are not appropriately addressed. Transdisciplinary co-production of agro-ecological knowledge could help to change their attitude.


Agriculture Ecosystem service Farmer attitude Farmer behaviour Participatory research Temperate agroforestry 



We like to thank the farmers for spending their valuable time in sharing their perspectives on restoring trees and multifunctional landscapes. Comments of two anonymous reviewers significantly improved the manuscript. Part of this study was funded by the MAVA Foundation and by the FP7 project AgForward (Grant 613520). The research is based on interviews with farmers. They were volunteers and they agreed for the results to be analysed and published. Farmers remain anonymous.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Aeberhard A, Rist S (2009) Transdisciplinary co-production of knowledge in the development of organic agriculture in Switzerland. Ecol Econ 68:1171–1181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ajzen I (1985) From intentions to actions: a theory of planned behavior. In: Kuhl J, Beckmann J (eds) Action control: from cognition to behavior. Springer, Heidelberg, pp 11–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ajzen I (1991) The theory of planned behavior. Organ Behav Hum Decis Proc 50:179–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ajzen I (2010) Constructing a theory of planned behavior questionnaire Accessed 15 Feb 2010
  5. Alder T (2007) Vollkostenkalkulation für die Mostobstproduktion. Vergleich der Produktionskosten von Mostobst zwischen der Ostschweiz und Baden-Württemberg. ART-Berichte, Zurich, p 691Google Scholar
  6. Asbjornsen H, Hernandez Santana V, Liebman M, Bayala J, Chen J, Helmers M, Ong CK, Schulte LA (2013) Targeting perennial vegetation in agricultural landscapes for enhancing ecosystem services. Renew Agric Food Syst 29(2):101–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. BFS (2014) Land- und Forstwirtschaft. Swiss Federal Office for Statistics, Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Dataset Accessed 12 Aug 2014
  8. Birrer S, Spiess M, Herzog F, Jenny M, Kohli L, Lugrin B (2007) The Swiss agri-environment scheme promotes farmland birds: but only moderately. J Ornith 148(Suppl. 2):S295–S303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. BLW (2013) Agrarbericht. Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture, Bern, Switzerland. Dataset Accessed 12 Aug 2014
  10. Bosshard A, Schläpfer F, Jenny M (2010) Weissbuch Landwirtschaft Schweiz—Analysen und Vorschläge zur Reform der Agrarpolitik. Haupt Verlag, BernGoogle Scholar
  11. Bundesrat (2013) SR 910.13 Verordnung vom 23. Oktober 2013 über die Direktzahlungen an die Landwirtschaft (Direktzahlungsverordnung, DZV). Accessed 01 Sep 2015
  12. Burgess PJ (1999) Effects of agroforestry on farm biodiversity in the UK. Scott For 53(1):24–27Google Scholar
  13. Burkhardt-Holm P (2008) Fischnetz: Involving anglers, authorities, scientists and the chemical industry to understand declining fish yields. In: Hoffmann-Riem H, Biber-Klemm S, Grossenbacher W, Joye D, Pohl C, Wiesmann U, Zemp E, Hirsch Hadorn G (eds) Handbook of transdisciplinary research. Springer Verlag, Berlin, pp 127–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Critchley W, Verburg M, Veldhuizen LV (2006) Facilitating multi-stakeholder partnerships: lessons from PROLINNOVA. Accessed 9 Sep 2010
  15. Daily GC (ed) (1997) Nature’s services: societal dependence on natural systems. Island Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  16. Eichhorn MP, Paris P, Herzog F, Incoll LD, Liagre F, Mantzanas K, Mayus M, Moreno G, Papanastasis VP, Pilbeam DJ, Pisanelli A, Dupraz C (2006) Silvoarable systems in Europe—past, present and future prospects. Agrofor Syst 67:29–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ewald KC, Klaus G (2010) Die ausgewechselte Landschaft—Vom Umgang der Schweiz mit ihrer wichtigsten natürlichen Ressource. Bern/Stuttgart/Wien, Haupt. 2. Aufl. 660 pGoogle Scholar
  18. Franzel S (1999) Socioeconomic factors affecting the adoption potential of improved tree fallows in Africa. Agrofor Syst 47:305321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gibbons P, Lindenmayer DB, Fischer J, Manning AD, Weinberg A, Seddon J, Ryan P, Barrett G (2008) The future of scattered trees in agricultural landscapes. Conserv Biol 22:1309–1319CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 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
  21. Graves AR, Burgess PJ, Liagre F, Pisanelli A, Paris P, Moreno GM, Bellido M, Mayus M, Postma M, Schindler 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, New-York, pp 67–86Google Scholar
  22. Herzog F (1998) Streuobst: a traditional agroforestry system as a model for agroforestry development in temperate Europe. Agrofor Syst 42:61–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Herzog F, Dreier S, Hofer G, Marfurt C, Schüpbach B, Spiess M, Walter T (2005) Effect of ecological compensation areas on floristic and breeding bird diversity in Swiss agricultural landscapes. Agric Ecosyst Environ 108(3):189–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Home R, Balmer O, Jahrl I, Stolze M, Pfiffner L (2014) Motivations for implementation of ecological compensation areas on Swiss lowland farms. J Rural Stud 34:26–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Junge X, Lindemann-Matties P, Hunziker M, Schüpbach B (2011) Aesthetic preferences of non-farmers and farmers for different land-use types and proportions of ecological compensation areas in the Swiss lowlands. Biol Conserv 144(5):1430–1440CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lefroy EC, Hobbs RJ, O’Connor MH, Pate JS (1999) What can agriculture learn from natural ecosystems? In: Lefroy EC, Hobbs RJ, O’Connor MH, Pate JS (eds) Agriculture as a mimic of natural ecosystems. Current plant science and biotechnology in agriculture (37). Kluwer Academic Publishers, London, pp 479–492Google Scholar
  27. Lehmann J, Weigl D, Droppelmann K, Huwe B, Zech W (1999) Nutrient cycling in agroforestry with runoff irrigation. Agrofor Syst 43:49–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mahapatra AK, Mitchell CP (2001) Classifying tree planters and non planters in subsistence farming system using a discriminant analytical approach. Agrofor Syst 52:41–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McAdam JH, Sibbald AR, Teklehaimanot Z, Eason WR (2007) Developing silvopastoral systems and their effects on diversity of fauna. Agrofor Syst 70:81–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. McAdam JH, Burgess PJ, Graves AR, Mosquera-Losada MR, Rigueiro-Rodriguez A (2009) Classifications and functions of agroforestry systems in Europe. In: Rigueiro-Rodríguez A, McAdam JH, Mosquera-Losada MR (eds) Advances in agroforestry, vol 6: agroforestry in Europe: current status and future prospect. Springer, New York, pp 21–41Google Scholar
  31. Montagnini F, Nair PKR (2004) Carbon sequestration: an underexploited environmental benefit of agroforestry systems. Agrofor Syst 61:281–295Google Scholar
  32. Nair PKR (1993) An introduction to agroforestry. Kluwer Academic Publishers, DordrechtCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Palma JHN, Graves AR, Bunce RGH, Burgess PJ, De Filippi R, Keesman KJ, Van Keulen H, Liagre F, Mayus M, Moreno G, Reisner Y, Herzog F (2007a) Modeling environmental benefits of silvoarable agroforestry in Europe. Agric Ecosyst Environ 119:320–334CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Palma JHN, Graves AR, Burgess PJ, van der Werf W, Herzog F (2007b) Integrating environmental and economic performance to assess modern silvoarable agroforestry in Europe. Ecol Econ 63:759–767CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pannell DJ (1999) Social and economic challenges in the development of complex farming systems. In: Lefroy EC, Hobbs RJ, O’Connor MH, Pate JS (eds) Agriculture as a mimic of natural ecosystems. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp 449–465Google Scholar
  36. Pluske J, Fraser R (1996) Can producers place valid and reliable valuations of wool price risk information? Rev Mark Agric Econ 63:284–291Google Scholar
  37. Reeg T, Hampel J, Hohlfeld F, Mathiak G, Ruşdea E (2009) Agroforstsysteme aus Naturschutzsicht—Chancen und Einschränkungen. In: Reeg T, Bemmann A, Konold W, Murach D, Spiecker H (eds) Anbau und Nutzung von Bäumen auf landwirtschaftlichen Flächen. Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, pp 301–311CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sereke F, Graves AR, Dux D, Palma JHN, Herzog F (2015) Classification and bio-economic assessment of farmers‘agroforestry innovations in Switzerland. Agron Sustain Dev 35(2):759–770CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Smith J (2010) The history of temperate agroforestry. Progressive Farming Trust Limited, The Organic Research Centre, BerkshireGoogle Scholar
  40. Wagner P, Heinrich J, Kröber M, Schweinle J, Große W (2009) Ökonomische Bewertung von Kurzumtriebsplantagen und Einordnung der Holzerzeugung in die Anbaustruktur landwirtschaftlicher Unternehmen. In: Reeg T, Bemmann A, Konold W, Murach D, Spiecker H (eds) Anbau und Nutzung von Bäumen auf landwirtschaftlichen Flächen. Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, p 137Google Scholar
  41. Waters-Bayer A, Kristjanson P, Wettasinha C, van Veldhizen L, Quiroga G, Swanns K, Douthwaite B (2015) Exploring the impact off farmer-led research supported by civil society organisations. Agric Food Sec 4(4):1–7. doi: 10.1186/s40066-015-0023-7 Google Scholar
  42. Zhang W, Rickets TH, Kremen C, Carnez K, Swinton SM (2007) Ecosystem services and dis-services to agriculture. Ecol Econ 64:253–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Sereke
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. Dobricki
    • 1
    • 3
  • J. Wilkes
    • 1
    • 4
  • A. Kaeser
    • 1
  • A. R. Graves
    • 5
  • E. Szerencsits
    • 1
  • F. Herzog
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Agroscope, Institute for Sustainability SciencesZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.School of Agricultural, Forest and Food SciencesZollikofenSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of Psychology 1Julius-Maximilian University of WürzburgWürzburgGermany
  4. 4.Department of Environmental Systems Science, ETH-ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  5. 5.Natural Resources Management InstituteCranfield UniversityCranfieldUK

Personalised recommendations