An introduction to silvoarable systems

Sharing knowledge on integrating apple trees into fields sown with grass and barley

28th April 2022

Roger Howison and his wife Rachel were given approval in 2016 from the Woodland Trust to plant 750 heritage apple trees and 10,000 native broadleaf trees. The apples are grown as a commercial crop to make cider which is sold from local delicatessens and farm shops in the area as well as from neighbouring Lindores Distillery.

Improving biodiversity and establishing a low input crop that lasts for decades were the primary motivators to integrate apple trees with arable crops. Ten rows of apples trees were planted with in rows 27 metres apart in a field sown with grass, switching to barley for two years and then back to grass. The ambition was to mix arable crops with apple trees, with the trees providing shelter for the crops, helping to improve biodiversity, and produce a low input crop. The broadleaf trees were joined up with existing shelter belts, providing a wildlife corridor and space for grazing livestock. The species are a mix of oak, silver birth, rowan, hazel, Scots pine, with flowering wild cherry and elder to attract pollinating birds.

'Agroecology: Facilitating Mindset Change' is a partnership project delivered by:

Nourish Scotland -

Landworkers’ Alliance -

The Food, Farming and Countryside Commission -

Pasture For Life -

Soil Association Scotland -

Nature Friendly Farming Network -

This project has been funded through the Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund (KTIF), which is funded by the Scottish Government.

More stories of hope and action from people across the UK working for a fair and sustainable future feature in our Field Guide for the Future.