Feeding willow leaves to sheep could reduce greenhouse gas emissions, suggests research by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust.
The study involved four groups of six Aberfield-cross lambs. Half were fed 200g each of goat willow leaves daily. Urine tests subsequently confirmed significant reductions in both nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide.
Part-funded by the Woodland Trust, the work also found lower ammonia emissions from willow-fed lambs. Professor Chris Stoate said the results were a preliminary but exciting finding which warranted further investigation.
Defra recently confirmed that agroforestry is eligible for support through the Basic Payment Scheme – including trees planted at wide spacings and intercropped with a cereal or bio-energy crop; and trees on grassland with livestock.
The Committee on Climate Change estimates that agroforestry could result in carbon emissions savings of 5.9 Mt of carbon dioxide per year by 2050, about 13% of total current emissions from the agriculture sector.