Subsidient: Niek Pepels/Wageningen University
Subsidy S182.66

The conventional large-scale agricultural system produces food very efficiently, but harms the environment and is, both ecologically as well as economically, not sustainable due to its reliance on energy-intensive inputs (fertilisers, pesticides), and its adverse effects on biodiversity and the environment. The aim of this research was to evaluate the ecological and economical sustainability of both an agroforestry system based on the sweet chestnut (indicated as CAS) (Castanea sativa), and the conventional cereal system, to investigate if this chestnut-based system could be a sustainable alternative to the current staple food system. To investigate ecological sustainability, beetle biodiversity was measured and carbon stocks were calculated. Net caloric yields were calculated to evaluate the economic sustainability of the systems. Results showed that the chestnut system had higher biodiversity than the conventional corn system. Moreover, the chestnut system stored, on average, 203 tons of carbon per ha more than the conventional cereal system. Net food yields of the CAS were higher than those of the average-yield wheat system, suggesting that the CAS can serve as a replacement for average-yield cereal systems without losing caloric production. This research shows that a CAS is a more sustainable agricultural system than the conventional staple food system and shows that a chestnut based system can provide a way to combine the beneficial ecosystem services (like biodiversity and carbon fixation) of nature, with the high production of agriculture.