Measure the harvests of your food forest and help science!
Do you have or manage a food forest? And would you like to know how much your forest yields? Then this is the tool for you. Because with this tool, you can measure how well your food forest is doing (already) in terms of biodiversity for example, or how much CO2 is stored in it. But you can also keep track of what you harvest economically.
The tool is set up in such a way that you can compare your forest in many aspects with other food forests of the same age and soil type. This data is also shared through an Open Data source with any researcher who wants to look at it. By doing so, you actively contribute to the global knowledge growth about food forests!
Don't want to read any more and get started right away? Create a profile and
What are the requirements to participate?Any food forest can participate. There is no selection at the gate and that means we can only give advice. The only important thing is to answer questions as carefully as possible, so that we do not compare apples with oranges. The Green deal food forests has adopted the following definition of a food forest:
Food forests are man-made productive ecosystems modelled on natural forests, with a high diversity of perennial and/or woody species, whose parts (fruits, seeds, leaves, stems, etc.) serve as food for humans. With presence of:
- a crown layer of taller trees;
- at least 3 of the other niches or vegetation layers of lower trees, shrubs, herbs, ground cover, underground plants and climbing plants respectively;
- a rich forest floor life;
A food forest has a robust size, i.e. an area of at least 0.5 hectares in an ecologically rich environment; in a severely impoverished environment, a minimum area of up to 20 hectares is required.
This means that food forests smaller than half a hectare are in practice more like gardens than forests. They will probably not be able to fully deliver on the promise of an input-free system, and test results extrapolating to a hectare will be more error-sensitive.
Even food forests with ducks, chickens or pigs are in this definition agroforestry (silvopasture) and certainly nature-inclusive forms of agriculture, but not a food forest. It therefore functions differently. In the economic test, you can indicate whether livestock is placed in the forest. Be honest about that, because then we can compare your data with the 'food forests' where this is also the case.
So, in summary: all food forests on all types and sizes of land and of any destination and owner are very welcome to participate. You are welcome in the community and your data are interesting for science too. However, be honest when filling it in.
What do we measure exactly?
Ecology and economy
There are four ecological tests and you can report economically per year. The ecological tests take place within a so-called tree plot. Per hectare you choose a characteristic spot for that hectare, look for a well-marked/recognisable tree and draw a circle of 10 metres around it. Download the Field Instructionshere .
Biodiversity can be measured by naming all the plants in the herb layer in the tree plot once a year and telling how many there are. You do this test every year in the period May-June. An app such as Plantnet can be very useful for this.
Soil composition and PH
Especially for starting forests, it is important to know on which soil you start and what the acidity of that soil is. We want you to repeat this test every 5 years, because we suspect that food forests help to make acidic soils less acidic.
CO2 storage in trees
In this test, you measure the height and circumference/diameter of all trees and tall shrubs that are 130cm or taller in the tree plot. You enter this number and then in the first year you know how much CO2 is stored in this plot. When you measure again in three years you will learn how much your food forest contributes to the much needed storage of CO2. How cool is that!
During the annual soil animal day, we also measure soil animals in the same tree plot. We then submit these data from all the measuring food forests to the national census.
We choose to ask you to fill in the economic data of your food forest once a year. We stay very close to what you have to keep for your bookkeeping and are not only interested in kilos, but also in hours of work and the translation into (other forms of) economic returns.
Join in, meet others and help yourself and science!
Create an account, meet other food farmers in your area and share your untraceable data with the world.
Create an account and download the field guide in Dutch or English below.
The analyses of 2020, 2021 and 2022
When you participate in research, it is also interesting to learn more about what comes out of it. This is of course limited in the first years, but already interesting. Read more about our webinars. Here, you will find presentations on the structure, the results and the validation study from 2021. In this study, we examined the margin of error of all those lay people who participate in scientific research.